NEW YORK, (UPI) — New York City and Long Island began rationing Friday to ease a gasoline crisis from Hurricane Sandy that officials said could last two more weeks.
The new rules let cars fuel up only if the last number of the license plate matches the day’s date — even-numbered license plates on even-numbered days and odd-numbered on odd days.
Plates ending with a letter are considered odd-numbered. People filling up gas cans are not affected — nor are buses, taxis and emergency vehicles, officials said.
New Jersey began gas rationing Saturday.
“This is not a step that we take lightly,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. “But given the shortages we will face over the next few weeks, and the growing frustrations of New Yorkers, we believe it is the right step.”
Bloomberg said only about a quarter of the city’s roughly 800 gas stations were open at any given time, adding the fuel shortage could last another couple of weeks.
Gasbuddy.com said nearly 70 percent of Long Island gas stations were empty.
Federal, state and local efforts to resolve the gasoline crisis were set back by Wednesday’s nor’easter, officials said. The storm temporarily halted efforts to repair oil and gasoline terminals and prevented barges carrying fuel from reaching their docks, The New York Times said.
The major utilities said 761,000 customers were still without power, down from 8.5 million shortly after Sandy hit 10 days ago.
Two major New York-area tunnels were to reopen Friday — one for cars and the other for trains.
The 72-year-old twin-tube Queens-Midtown Tunnel, a highway tunnel crossing under the East River between the boroughs of Manhattan and Queens, was to reopen at 6 a.m. Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
The 62-year-old Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, which at one point had water up to its ceiling, remained closed with no reopening date. That twin-tube tunnel crosses under the East River between Manhattan and the borough of Brooklyn.
Amtrak said it expects that by the end of Friday it would reopen a flooded commuter-rail tunnel under the Hudson River to let New Jersey Transit trains get to New York’s Pennsylvania Station, a major intercity train station and commuter rail hub normally serving more than 300,000 passengers a day.
Amtrak and New Jersey Transit have been using just one Hudson River tunnel since Nov. 2 after Hurricane Sandy flooded the second tunnel.