New York City Imposes "Odd, Even" Gas Rationing To Cope With Long Lines At The Pump

Hurricane Sandy (2012)PoliticsDownstream Oil and Gas ActivitiesNew York City Police DepartmentMichael BloombergAndrew Cuomo

Friday was a good day to be odd as fuel-thirsty New York City motorists took to the pumps in the first day of "odd, even" gas rationing, an unwelcome throwback to the gas restrictions from the 1970s.

Anecdotal reports suggested gas lines moved more swiftly for some New Yorkers who had grown accustomed to sometimes miles-long slogs for their precious fuel. Both the city and Long Island switched to gas rationing Friday morning for the foreseeable future, echoing 12 New Jersey counties that imposed the restrictions just days after Superstorm Sandy devastated the supply chain.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday sought to manage expectations about how effective the gas restrictions would be, saying the key problem remains damage to gas-distribution terminals.

"The real answer -- all the experts believe -- is just with time. They really thought that the damage to some of these small distribution terminals was not anywhere near as extensive as it was when they finally got electricity back and then tried to get it going," he said on his weekly radio show, back for the first time since Sandy hit.

Indeed, some lines remained intolerable despite the rationing, especially in neighborhoods where most gas stations remain closed and residents are still filling portable containers to fuel their generators.

Drivers whose license plates end in an even number or zero will be able to buy gas only on even-numbered days. Drivers whose plates end in a letter, another character or, of course, an odd number, can pump on odd-numbered days. Commercial vehicles, emergency vehicles, buses and paratransit vehicles, medical doctor plates and vehicles licensed by the TLC are exempt. MORE DETAILS HERE.

Bloomberg said NYPD officers will be posted to gas stations to ensure motorists are following the directive.

"Last week's storm hit the fuel network hard – and knocked out critical infrastructure needed to distribute gasoline," Bloomberg said. "Even as the region's petroleum infrastructure slowly returns to normal, the gasoline supply remains a real problem for thousands of New York drivers. Earlier today, I signed an emergency order to alternate the days that drivers can purchase gas, which is the best way to cut down the lines and help customers buy gas faster."

In other Sandy-related news, the storm will cost New York State $33 billion, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday as he tore into utilities anew as the region copes with the second major storm in a week.

"I have used language that my daughters couldn't hear," Cuomo said, about how he has communicated his frustrations with the state's utility companies.

Meanwhile, another big piece of the New York City subway system was restored Thursday afternoon as the MTA powered up the L train linking Brooklyn to Manhattan. That extends service between Broadway Junction and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan. The Queens Midtown Tunnel reopened Friday morning.

At Cuomo's news conference, he raised questions anew about how the city would rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

"We did not think of floods and storms" when we designed New York. That has changed, so how do we rebuild, Cuomo asked.

"What should we rebuild, where and how? Maybe Mother Nature is telling us something," said the givernor, who has repeatedly cited climate change in the weather blows the city has taken in the past couple of years.

"How do you harden our systems," the governor asked, pointing out how vulnerable the state's transportation, fuel delivery, communications were exposed to be by Hurricane Sandy.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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