Long Island to Ration Gas on Odd/Even Days

Walk-ups at a Hess gas station in Copiague Saturday, Nov. 3 filled cans and containers of all shapes and dimensions with fuel for their cars and generators, including buckets, water jugs and antifreeze bottles. (Christopher Twarowski/Long Island Press)

Nassau and Suffolk counties have ordered gas rationing on odd/even days starting early Friday morning as the fuel drought continues into its second week after Hurricane Sandy, officials announced Thursday.

With Long Islanders continuing to flood gas stations seeking much-needed gasoline for their vehicles, officials in both counties decided to create a “fuel management system” to ease the pain at the pumps, with some people waiting several hours just to fill their tanks, Suffolk officials said.


“This temporary fuel policy will ease the challenges residents of the bi-county region are experiencing in the aftermath of the storm,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

The policy will take effect Friday at 5 a.m. New Jersey had instituted the same rule several days after Sandy pummeled the Northeast, creating panic at gas stations not seen since the 1970s gas embargo.

The temporary policy means gas station employees will only be able to sell gas to drivers with odd/even license plate numbers that corresponds with the day of the month.

Here’s how it works:

  • Drivers with license plates ending in an even number can purchase gas on even-numbered days. Those with plates ending in odd numbers can buy fuel only on odd-numbered days.
  • Those with vanity plates will join the group of odd-numbered plates.
  • Out of state vehicles will follow the same rules.
  • Officials said the policy does not apply to commercial vehicles, taxi or limousines or emergency fleets.
  • The policy also does not apply to those purchasing fuel with gas canisters.

Dozens of people lined up at a Hess gas station in Syosset Nov. 8, 2012 to fill up containers and cans for generators and fuel tanks. It was the same day county executives from both Nassau and Suffolk counties announced Long Island would begin rationing gas by odd and even days and license plate numbers. (Dan O’Regan/Long Island Press)

Nearly all residents who travel by car or depend on gas to power up generators during power outages have been affected by the gas problem spawned by Sandy. Lines have snaked down blocks for miles. Cars, sometimes 200 deep, waited on lines for hours.

Emotions have also been running high at the pump. In Suffolk, a man was arrested for allegedly pulling a knife on a gas station attendant on Monday, police said. A Queens man was also accused of brandishing a gun on a gas line.

“I think it’s going to alleviate pressure on the lines,” said Michael Connelly of Queens, as he waited among dozens of others on foot and in their vehicles at a Hess station in Syosset Thursday. “If it’s working for New Jersey you can see that they’ll want to follow suit.”

“I’m surprised they waited this long,” added John Kim, waiting on the same grueling line.

Bob Cat, the manager of a Gulf station in Syosset, agrees.

“I think they should have done it sooner,” he said. “Twenty to 30 percent of the cars that came in were coming to fill up when they had more than half a tank, but they were afraid they couldn’t get enough gas.”

He added: “If they had been restricted they could have come the next day and it would have been fine.”


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