(NEW YORK) — New York City and Long Island drivers will have to check their license plates before attempting to get in line for gas in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.
Beginning Friday morning, drivers with license plates ending in an even number will only be able to fill up their tanks on even-numbered days; those with license plates ending in an odd number can get gas on odd days. Vehicles with license plates ending in a letter or other character will be able to buy gas on odd-numbered days.
Commercial vehicles, emergency vehicles, buses and paratransit vehicles, Medical Doctor (MD) plates and vehicles licensed by the Taxi and Limousine Commission are exempt from the gas rationing system.
“Last week’s storm hit the fuel network hard — and knocked out critical infrastructure needed to distribute gasoline,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Thursday. “Even as the region’s petroleum infrastructure slowly returns to normal, the gasoline supply remains a real problem for thousands of New York drivers.”
With more than 500,000 customers still living without power in the region, many also need the fuel to keep generators running in these frigid temperatures.
“We have to do something,” Bloomberg said. “This is practical and enforceable and a lot better than doing nothing.”
“I think that makes sense. I think that should have started from the beginning. I think it would have eased up, and you wouldn’t of had this these long lines,” a Queens, N.Y., driver told ABC News affiliate WABC-TV.
The long lines for gas are eerily reminiscent of the dark days of the 1979 energy crisis under President Jimmy Carter — the last time a gas rationing system was put in place.
Officials said something needed to be done so everyone — both drivers and people using gas to fuel generators — can have their chance at a fair share.
“This is designed to let everybody have a fair chance, so the lines aren’t too oppressive and that we can get through this,” Bloomberg said.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie implemented a rationing system shortly after the demand for fuel became too great. Christie has said that the new rules have curbed lines from more than three hours to under an hour.
The rationing system comes two days after a nor’easter blew through the area, knocking out power to those who just got it back from superstorm Sandy.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ray Sanchez, CNN Newswire
Chuck Johnston, CNN Newswire