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Earlier this month, I sat tethered to my cell phone late into the evening, waiting to find out where one of my City Heights sources had gone. I was supposed to introduce Halima Tinson to “Marketplace Money” host Tess Vigeland earlier in the day for an interview. She wasn’t home or answering her cell phone.

The Marketplace team finally found her hours later at a City Heights preschool. Her time had been eaten up by long bus rides, just as it had the two other times she unsuccessfully tried to enroll her twins in the school.

The implications of inefficient transit for the poor was a surprising theme to come out of the “Marketplace Money” coverage of poverty in San Diego, which aired nationally over the weekend. In sprawling cities like San Diego, the up-front cost of buying a car—as well as gas, insurance and traffic tickets—makes good financial sense, even for the poor.

For Tinson, getting where she needs to go quickly could mean fewer thwarted attempts to sign her kids up for preschool and more time for her stay-at-home husband to train for a new job. It could also correct a frustrating Catch-22: She takes the bus to get to her job, but her hours were cut this year because the bus wasn’t getting her to work on time.

The hour-long special produced by “Marketplace Money’s” Wealth and Poverty Desk with help from KPBS explores the everyday decisions of the poor and the stresses they induce. It features five San Diego families, including a woman living in her car with her children after losing her job at San Diego Unified. KPBS reporter Tom Fudge also produced a segment for the show.

Listen to the special here. You can watch Vigeland discuss her experience reporting in San Diego with “KPBS Evening Edition.”

For more on City Heights residents’ transportation woes, visit Speak City Heights.

Megan Burks is a reporter for Speak City Heights, a media project of Voice of San Diego, KPBS, Media Arts Center and The AjA Project. You can contact her directly at meburks@kpbs.org or 619.550.5665.

Megan Burks

Megan Burks is a reporter for Speak City Heights, a media project of Voice of San Diego, KPBS, Media Arts Center and The AjA Project. You can contact her...

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