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Nov 13, 2012 12:52 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Gas Lines Ease, Odd-Even Rationing Still In Place

Nov 13, 2012 4:32 PM

With lines fading and most stations reopened, East End residents looking to fill up their gas tanks saw a return to normalcy this week, except for the odd-even gas rationing still in place as of Tuesday.

Burt Gossoo, a manager at the Shell Station off Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays, said the policy, put in place at 5 a.m. last Friday, November 9, might have been more effective a week earlier. The policy, effective in both Nassau and Suffolk counties, as well as New York City, permits motorists whose license plates end in an even number to get gas on even-numbered days, and those with plates ending in odd numbers on odd-numbered days.

Mr. Gossoo said it was only about a day after Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced the rationing that the long lines began disappearing at gas stations and supply distribution returned back to normal. He said his station employees enforced the policy when it was busy, but did not find it necessary when there were no lines. The last time such a policy was in place, during the 1973 oil crisis, Mr. Gossoo said most stations offered only full service, making it easier for employees to monitor license plate numbers.

Vanessa Baird-Streeter, a spokeswoman for Mr. Bellone, said Tuesday that she did not know when the policy would be lifted. She said last week that it was “very short term” and that the policy could be lifted at any time.

Henry Durdu, a manager at the Hess gas station off Montauk Highway in Quogue, said the policy was helpful in reducing lines. He said he had employees stand outside to check numbers, though he wasn’t enforcing it on Tuesday due to the lack of lines. He added that he had seen police officers stop by frequently to enforce the rationing.

Michael Watt, the executive director of the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association, said late last week that he did 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 customers were following the odd-even regulations.

“Our people are in the business of serving customers, 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” starting last Thursday with shorter lines and more stations open.

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 customers coming into their stores to purchase items like food, coffee and cigarettes. “It’s not a matter of not having product to sell but everything else,” he said.

Officials in Nassau and Suffolk counties, as well as New York City, decided to implement the measure last week—a similar policy was already put in place in New Jersey—after strong winds and rain brought by last week’s nor’easter further disrupted the fuel distribution system. A terminal served by the Buckeye Pipeline, which pumps millions of gallons of gas to Long Island, lost power last Wednesday night. Though it was restored the next morning, it interrupted the supply system, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, and the ripple effect led to new shortages at gas stations across the island.

Motorists with vanity plates or plates that do not display numbers are considered odd-numbered. The policy also applies to out-of-state vehicles, but not to commercial vehicles, taxis, limousines, emergency vehicles or pedestrians with handheld gas containers.

“This temporary fuel policy will ease the challenges residents of the bi-county region are experiencing in the aftermath of the storm,” Mr. Bellone said in a prepared statement after the policy was enacted. “Our citizens travel between Nassau and Suffolk without regard to county borders, and it only makes sense that we adopt a regional solution.”

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Makes sense. So now on your day you have to hope that there is a gas station nearby that has gas. Instead of just hoping that there is a gas station nearby that has gas any day. Are there special lines for pedestrians with gas cans?(or do they just stand in line behind an automobile?
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on Nov 8, 12 4:38 PM
shouldn't they have done this from the start?
By Eliza (29), Westhampton Beach on Nov 8, 12 4:55 PM
Yes, but I don't think anyone guessed the magnitude of the problem. Better late than never.
By Tuckahoe Ted (53), southampton on Nov 8, 12 7:47 PM
Self serve stations are going to be fun. Bring a bat.
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Nov 8, 12 5:00 PM
Ridiculous. This does nothing to change demand or supply, it just makes it more inconvenient. Someone who needs to fill up every three days now has to go every two days to top off instead of waiting.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Nov 8, 12 5:14 PM
It may not change the general demand, will it will make the demand come in more manageable waves. The reduced volume of traffic will indeed help, and this will also prevent people from hoarding gas in their tanks. In the 1970's gas shortage, "topping off" was managed somehow, but I don't remember exactly how. I think your tank had to be less than 1/2 full, but this is difficult to police. More of an honor system.

"Honor" -- hmmm, now there is a human trait which appears to be on the wane ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Nov 8, 12 6:59 PM
VOS: It doesn't change supply coming to Long Island at all, and it doesn't change demand, per se, but it absolutely cuts the waiting lines by 50%.
By Agawam Yacht Club (69), Southampton on Nov 9, 12 3:00 PM
Absolutely wrong. That would be the case if everyone went for gas every day. Unless a large majority of the population was trying to get gas every day the change is strictly psychological.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Nov 9, 12 6:06 PM
If half of the population is immediately disqualified from getting in line for gas on any given day, then the lines are half as long. Period.

It makes no difference if the line is long or short, or if demand is high or low, or even if supply is high or low. Take the psychology out of it and it's just math.
By Agawam Yacht Club (69), Southampton on Nov 13, 12 12:59 PM
Donate to Tim Bishop's 2014 campaign and you can get in the front of the Line
By kpjc (161), east quogue on Nov 8, 12 5:18 PM
Here's my plan: Get electric restored to all the gas stations on LI. Bring in tankers filled with gasoline and have them supply the gas stations with gas. It seems radical on paper, but it can work if we give it a chance.
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Nov 8, 12 5:48 PM
4 members liked this comment
Nice tongue-in-cheek suggestion! Isn't this what is already happening?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Nov 8, 12 7:00 PM
After witnessing the gas nightware up the Island yesterday it would be helpful if stations take the pricing off their signs and instead put HAVE GAS or NO GAS
By Q333 (161), Southampton on Nov 8, 12 7:37 PM
Yes, PBR. I'm joking around. If we can't laugh we'll spend our days crying.
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Nov 8, 12 8:34 PM
What a gas!
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Nov 8, 12 8:42 PM
Vanity plates are considered "odd" within this system.

Get Ready for traffic jambs tomorrow Friday 11/9!
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Nov 8, 12 6:10 PM
Who needs to fill up every 3 days? Someone commuting to the city in a tractor? If people behave and drive reasonably, this should ease demand. I don't like it, but I think it's fair given the circumstances. I commute from Hampton Bays to East Hampton, so I am affected, but If we all act like grown ups, we'll get through this. The real problem is the price gouging at the pump that goes on all year round in the Hamptons.
By NickEpstein (1), on Nov 8, 12 6:23 PM
2 members liked this comment
I am interested to see how it works, could be a good idea.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Nov 8, 12 6:25 PM
1 member liked this comment
OK. . . . So it starts friday- IS FRIDAY AN ODD OR EVEN D AY ????? Great article Carol but did u forget to ask the most important question or did u just figure the mob would decide??
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Nov 8, 12 6:55 PM
Tomorrow is Friday November 9th.

9 is an odd number (between 8 and 10).

What is unclear about this?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Nov 8, 12 7:03 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Nov 8, 12 7:13 PM
To quote the article"

"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."

Pretty simple stuff for readers whose torpedoes are not programmed to home back in on the launching vessel !!!

Here's some more rope for you . . . .
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Nov 8, 12 8:29 PM
Cap, uncalled for man, haha. PBR was just pointing out te obvious, no need to get excited.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Nov 8, 12 9:55 PM
Ah a nautical reference . . . . I approve- didn't think u had it in you!
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Nov 9, 12 5:31 AM
Are you familiar with this one?

"No wind blows in favor of a ship without a port of destination."

Words for thought . . .

Have a good weekend.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Nov 9, 12 7:00 AM
1 member liked this comment
“Our people are in the business of serving costumers, not turning away customers..." ? Really? What should we be wearing to get gas? Our super hero costumes? Halloween costumes? Fancy dress?
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Nov 8, 12 11:42 PM
1 member liked this comment
Sigh.. Well, Ok, but do I have to put on a costume to get gas at a self-serve or only at at full service station?

By Q333 (161), Southampton on Nov 9, 12 12:03 AM
1 member liked this comment
If you are riding low E, end in an even number, and can't fill up until you get paid Friday, it seems you will need your walkin' shoes...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Nov 9, 12 12:52 AM
...or a 6 gallon gas can.
By diy_guy (101), Southampton on Nov 9, 12 7:27 AM
Considering they will serve pedestrians with gas cans, I thought that went without sayin'.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Nov 9, 12 2:34 PM
Maybe if everyone stopped panicking and filling up every 2 days, and those with more than a half tank of gas stopped lining up, we could get more than one station filled. Each time a station gets gas people think its their last chance ever to fill up and LI e up til it runs dry. Sit back, let 2-3 stations in your area get gas, the lines aren't there, the supply is there......too much logic?
By bubby (236), southampton on Nov 9, 12 7:50 AM
Too much logic!

Everyone says that there is not enough supply reaching the pumps. Guess what, with everyone's tanks being full, the supply is driving all around us, we just can't tap into it (siphon it off).

The odd-even system will reduce topping off IMO.

"Honor" could help also.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Nov 9, 12 9:07 AM
2 members liked this comment
"Take only that which you need to survive."

By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Nov 9, 12 10:21 PM
I saw a cop turn away a truck with even number commercial plates this morning ... oops !
By AndersEn (174), Southampton on Nov 9, 12 12:47 PM
I'm tempted to have a vanity plate made with the word "EVEN" on it. It could create total paralysis out here.
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Nov 9, 12 1:14 PM
2 members liked this comment
Vanity is odd.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Nov 9, 12 3:56 PM
It's starting to feel like Jimmy Carter is in the White House again
By shampton (30), southampton on Nov 9, 12 3:48 PM
Merry crisis, and happy new fear...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Nov 10, 12 11:45 PM
The lack of gas here is inexcusable! Seems like we're living in a freakin third world country, no gas at any of the 3 stations on the corner of North Sea Rd and the highway this afternoon! There's no rational reason why a station with electricity, like all in Southampton, should be without gas. Imagine paying employees to sit in line to fuel work vehicles, this sucks!
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Nov 9, 12 4:44 PM
Maybe next storm you should stand on the beach, and command it to stop. Shell in Water Mill still has fuel at this very moment. If you actually had the brains you think you do, you'd send work trucks to fuel during off peak hours, or request it of salaried employees. But, that would require creative, critical thought, and problem solving skills. Thinking "outside of the box", as it were.

In case you missed it, the docks which allow for gasoline to be brought ashore were DESTROYED. ...more
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Nov 9, 12 10:05 PM
1 member liked this comment
Interesting. Obama just won another 4 years. More of his magic to come! Yes it was a storm. I understand. He was here and promised a lot. Time to show us the love!
By realistic (472), westhampton on Nov 9, 12 7:51 PM
So, let's get this straight.

If my plate number is opposed to the date, I can't get fuel if there's a gallon of it, or less left in the car's tank, or there will be a hefty fine. But it's OK for someone to put fuel in a can, and dispense it into their tank with using said can in the open air. Seems to me it's more dangerous, and potentially sloppy to dispense fuel from a can, and you know people will use a funnel because the new fangled "gurgle cans" are the biggest pieces of aggravating ...more
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Nov 9, 12 10:17 PM
An uncanny insight.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Nov 10, 12 6:36 AM
Where does it say you will be fined?

I haven't read or heard of any incidents related to using cans to dispense fuel

It's really not that difficult to adequately plan when to get gasoline

And there are no laws against using gas cans to pour fuel into your own vehicle and gas cans are used hundreds of thousands of times a day probably throughout the country to fill various vehicles/equipment with a very low incident rate
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Nov 11, 12 12:12 AM
1. Yes, there is a fine if one is caught fueling on the wrong day.

2. Not everyone has disposable income, and I saw more than one person who was broke, and riding "low E" trying to get gas to after they got paid Friday. If you are broke as ****, it's alot harder to plan.

3. On your average day, you have professionals who fill equipment from cans on a regualr basis. We do not have your average days here, and people who use them once in a blue moon tend to be "all thumbs".

4. ...more
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Nov 11, 12 7:15 AM

Please direct me to the legislation enacted by the Suffolk County Legislature complete with the fine schedule for violations.

Also, gas only explodes when it's ignited in a closed system - you won't hear of any "explosions" from people filling their gas tanks
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Nov 11, 12 9:22 AM
Either there is a fine, or the signs posted at various gas stations are bogus. Plain as day, in black and white the signs state there is a penalty.

Static electricity, or smoking can cause a fire which could lead to an explosion. Pardon me for being so direct to an end result.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Nov 11, 12 1:47 PM
Can't believe everything ya read Z... you should know that!
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Nov 13, 12 3:24 PM
I guess I just expected honesty from folks.

[expletive deleted] me...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Nov 20, 12 6:38 AM
With another term of hapless Obama, perhaps we will be having gas lines in the future. He can then have the government take over the distrributiion of gas. Perhaps gas stamps?
By louse pt. (143), springs on Nov 10, 12 7:36 AM
You still haven't figured out why the Republicans lost, have you?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Nov 10, 12 10:07 AM
I'm not a republican, am a libertarian. I know exactly why they lost. they lost because they don't practice what they preach. They are NOT fiscal conservatives! They also continue to support a failed interventionist foreign policy, and continue to pontificate on social issues. Liberty and responsibility continue to erode from our nation. 47% of the population is on some time of gov assistance. This is unsustainable. There is NO arguing this. Obama will continue to lead us down the path of dependency ...more
By louse pt. (143), springs on Nov 10, 12 11:48 AM