With long lines for gas persisting more than a week after Hurricane Sandy swept the area, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced a rationing plan to combat the fuel crisis: Drivers can only fill up every other day.
Cars with license plates that end in odd numbers and letters will be allowed to fill up on odd-numbered dates, while vehicles with plates ending in a zero or even numbers and letters will be allowed to refuel on even-numbered dates.
“Only 25 percent of our gas stations we estimate are open. Drivers are still facing long lines, frustrations are only growing, and now it appears that shortages there will be shortages for possibly another couple of weeks,” Bloomberg said in the statement.
The mayor said that city authorities believe this is the best way to cut down on long fuel lines and help customers to “buy gas faster, to help gas stations stay open longer, and to reduce the potential for disorder is to alternate the days that drivers can purchase gas."
The announcement does not affect taxicabs or medical, commercial and emergency services vehicles.
A similar scheme was implemented on Long Island, while the state of New Jersey, which had also been severely damaged by the hurricane, imposed fuel rationing earlier last week. This is the first time since the 1970s when New York is rationing gasoline.
Police are expected to be at gas stations to enforce the new system in New York City and on Long Island.
City officials hope that the move will shorten the long lines of desperate drivers at gas stations, and help ease a shortage that has created a black market where online sellers offer fuel at exorbitant prices.
The National Guard and local emergency services are currently handing out hundreds of thousands of meals, water, warm blankets and other vital supplies, as more than 400,000 customers in New York City and Long Island still don’t have electricity.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo authorized $65 million in funds for food stamp recipients living in storm-ravaged areas. An estimated 130,000 state residents who receive food stamps will have the extra money deposited directly onto their cards.
With snow melting and milder weather forecasted for the next several days, New Yorkers will likely witness no further climate difficulties.
Local airlines have also resumed normal operations – according to the Federal Aviation Administration, JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports all have only minimal delays.