OLD GAS PLAN IS NEW AGAIN
‘Odd-Even’ Rationing Slows Fuel Fiasco
The gasoline rationing system enacted last Friday, Nov. 9 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg seems to have eased the fuel crisis gripping the city following Hurricane Sandy, as the long lines of drivers found at many gas stations previously have been reduced dramatically in recent days.
In effect until further notice, the “odd-even” system mandates that motorists may only purchase gas on alternating days based on the last digit of their license plate number. If the number is odd, drivers may fill up on odd days of the calendar, and likewise for even numbers on even days.
Vehicles with vanity plates are considered as having an odd number, while license plates ending in zero are considered to be even. The restriction does not apply to commercial vehicles, emergency vehicles, buses, paratransit vehicles, licensed livery vehicles and vehicles with doctors’ plates.
The restriction does not apply to anyone filling up gas cans.
A similar system was enacted in the city during the oil embargo of the 1970s. The program was reinstated in the city as well as New Jersey and Nassau and Suffolk counties to help the areas deal with the gasoline shortage since Hurricane Sandy struck back on Oct. 29.
Bloomberg noted in his announcement of the rationing system last Thursday, Nov. 8, that Sandy “hit the fuel network hard and knocked out critical infrastructure needed to distribute gasoline.” Many refineries located in New Jersey which produce fuel for the region sustained storm damage, and gas stations were knocked off line as a result of power outages.
Ports and roadways leading into and out of the city were also shut for extended periods before, during and after Sandy’s arrival, also complicating delivery efforts.
Though government agencies worked to expedite the delivery of gasoline to the city and Long Island in the wake of the storm—such as the delivery of more than 64,000 barrels of gasoline as well as convoy of tanker trucks from the Department of Defense—many gas stations still lacked the supply to meet the great demand of drivers.
A common sight around the five boroughs during the crisis have been long lines of drivers in their vehicles— and individuals toting red gas cans—waiting, at times, many hours at the few stations where gasoline was available. With the long lines came reports of fights breaking out among certain frustrated motorists at certain locations.
The NYPD dispatched officers to open gas stations to help provide not only crowd control but also security at the pumps; with the rationing system in place, the mayor noted, officers will remain at gas stations to enforce the emergency measure.
“Even as the region’s petroleum infrastructure slowly returns to nor- mal, the gasoline supply remains a real problem for thousands of New York drivers,” Bloomberg said, adding that the odd-even rationing system would be “the best way to cut down the lines and help customers buy gas faster.”
Last Wednesday’s snowstorm also complicated the gas crisis further, as the storm caused a power failure at a terminal for the Buckeye Pipeline, which had been shipping 4.5 million gallons of gasoline daily to the city. According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, though power was quickly restored, it nonetheless resulted in “an interruption in the fuel supply chain to those regions.”
“The state will continue to coordinate among local governments, as well as the federal government, to ensure that any fuel management measures are planned and implemented in conjunction with the Coast Guard, the U.S. Department of Energy and the petroleum industry,” Cuomo added.
Anyone who is caught violating the odd-even restriction in New York City is subject to a class B misdemeanor charge for violating an emergency order, according to Bloomberg. As the fuel shortage persists, he urged New Yorkers to use subways and buses as alternate forms of transportation.