Vanessa Streeter, a spokeswoman for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, said Thursday evening that police officers will be deployed at gas stations to enforce the odd-even rationing system that begins at 5 a.m. Friday.
She added that the policy is “very short-term” and that it can be lifted at any time. Ms. Streeter declined to offer an exact time.
Michael Watt, the executive director of the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association, said he does not think it would be necessary for officers to be called out to gas stations, explaining that the station employees would monitor plate numbers to ensure that costumers were following the odd-even regulations.
“Our people are in the business of serving costumers, not turning away customers, but we hope that Long Islanders cooperate,” he said. “This is a very trying two weeks for this industry.”
Mr. Watt added that Long Island residents saw the “light at the end of the tunnel” on Thursday with shorter lines and more stations open.
But he stressed that it would be several weeks before there is a return to normalcy.
Though he couldn’t estimate a dollar amount, Mr. Watt said gas stations have been significantly hurt by the shortage—more so from a lack of costumers coming into their stores to purchase such items as food, coffee and cigarettes.
“It’s not a matter of not having product to sell but everything else,” he said.
Beginning Friday at 5 a.m., an odd-even fuel management system will limit the days Long Island motorists can fill up their tanks, officials announced this afternoon.
Officials in Nassau and Suffolk counties, as well as New York City, decided to implement the measure last night—a similar measure was already put in place in New Jersey—after strong winds and rain brought by Wednesday’s nor’easter further disrupted the fuel distribution system. A terminal served by the Buckeye Pipeline, which pumps millions of gallons of gas to the Long Island area, lost power last night. Though it was restored this morning, it interrupted the supply system, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, and the ripple effect is leading to new shortages at gas stations on the island.
Owners of vehicles with license plates ending in an even number may only purchase fuel for that vehicle on even-numbered days, and those ending in odd numbers on odd-numbered days. Motorists with vanity plates or plates that do not display numbers are considered odd-numbered. The policy applies to out-of-state vehicles, but it does not apply to commercial vehicles, taxis, limousines, emergency vehicles or pedestrians with handheld gas containers.
Officials did not say how long the system would be in place.
“This temporary fuel policy will ease the challenges residents of the bi-county region are experiencing in the aftermath of the storm,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said in a prepared statement. “Our citizens travel between Nassau and Suffolk without regard to county borders, and it only makes sense that we adopt a regional solution.”