New York City and Long Island officials have ordered a temporary gasoline-rationing system - starting Friday morning - in which people there can buy fuel only on certain days, depending on their license-plate numbers.
The moves, designed to reduce wait times and lines at gas stations in the area, come more than a week after Superstorm Sandy damaged petroleum infrastructure in the region and made it difficult for people to get fuel for their vehicles, especially because many gas stations were without power for days.
Under the temporary system, people with odd-numbered license plates can buy fuel only on odd-numbered days, and people with even-numbered vehicles can buy fuel only on even-numbered days, according to officials in New York City and Long Island's Suffolk and Nassau counties.
Vehicles with licenses plates ending in a letter or other character can buy fuel on odd-numbered days. Commercial vehicles, emergency vehicles, buses and paratransit vehicles, medical doctor plates and vehicles licensed by the Taxi and Limousine Commission are exempt, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office said.
"Last week’s storm hit the fuel network hard - and knocked out critical infrastructure needed to distribute gasoline,” Bloomberg said in a news release. “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.”
New Jersey instituted a similar system last weekend in 12 counties.
The New York/Long Island system - starting at 6 a.m. Friday in New York City, and 5 a.m. on portions of Long Island outside the city - comes as the Northeast is dealing with a nor'easter that is dumping snow and downing more power lines a week after Sandy.