Mayor moves to end gas rationing in New York City

NEW YORK — Everybody to the pumps.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg Friday lifted an emergency order that imposed a 1970s-style odd-even rationing system for buying gasoline and diesel fuel in New York City. The mayor’s order is effective Saturday at 6 a.m.

Bloomberg imposed gasoline rationing on Nov. 9 after long lines at gas stations became the norm following post-superstorm Sandy’s disruption of the gasoline supply chain in the New York region.

The odd-even system, which made use of the last number of a vehicle’s license plate, was designed to cut wait times and reduce price volatility, Bloomberg said.

Gasoline rationing ended at midnight on Nov. 16 on Long Island, as the Nassau and Suffolk county executives lifted emergency orders after gasoline lines disappeared.

As of Friday, 85 percent of the gasoline stations in New York’s five boroughs were “operational” and the supply of gasoline to the city was expected to increase, Bloomberg said.

“The odd-even license plate system not only significantly reduced extreme lines, but also eased anxiety and disruptions for drivers at gas stations across the five boroughs,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “With more than 85 percent of gas stations now operating – a substantial increase from just 25 percent two weeks ago – and Thanksgiving and Black Friday behind us, the odd-even license plate system will be rescinded.”

Sandy caused flooding and damaged petroleum infrastructure throughout the tri-state area, forcing terminals and distribution networks in the region to close, Bloomberg said.

After the storm, city officials worked with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to open ports and free up more than 64,000 barrels of gasoline.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano also issued a temporary blanket waiver of the Jones Act to immediately allow additional oil tankers from the Gulf of Mexico to enter northeastern ports.

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