The television news program “Now on PBS” this week looks at whether transportation funds contained in the federal stimulus package will help mass transit or be sucked up for roads. Case study: North Carolina.

The program is an excellent review (about 24:00 long; the last 2:00 is something else) of how light-rail transit is working great in Charlotte (starring Mayor Pat McCrory), but not in the Triangle … and why regardless of the difference, neither Charlotte nor the Triangle may see any stimulus money for transit.

Two reasons for that: 1) the federal transportation money is coming through the state departments of transportation, in N.C. an historically road-friendly, but transit-unfriendly bunch; and 2) because the Bush Administration discouraged forward transit planning for eight years, few transit projects are “shovel-ready” anywhere in the U.S., including North Carolina, at a time when the premium is on creating construction jobs immediately, not just someday.

Triangle Transit’s David King is one of the TV show’s featured “victims,” saying to PBS what he told us at the Indy a few weeks ago: We’re being penalized for not looking ahead after being told four years ago not to look ahead. Ouch.