UPDATED Nov. 8, 2012
To reduce wait times and lines at gas stations in New York City, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signed an emergency order establishing an odd-even license plate system for gasoline and diesel purchases, beginning Friday, Nov. 9 at 6 a.m. The same rule has been in effect in New Jersey since Nov 3. License plates ending in an even number or the number “0” can make purchases of motor fuel on even numbered days; licenses plates ending in an odd number, a letter or other character can make purchases on odd numbered days.
Check nyc.gov for the latest news from Mayor Bloomberg’s office.
Nov. 2, 2012 — The Hess Station on corner of Erasmus Street and Bedford Avenue, one block from Church Avenue, a main thoroughfare of Flatbush, Brooklyn, did not have a line of cars waiting for gas at 1 p.m. on Thursday. It had a line of people waiting for gas, each carrying a red canister or two.
A perfect storm of inconvenient public transit options and disabled gas supply — from lack of electricity, a closed harbor and dispensaries flooded by Hurricane Sandy — has caused a gas shortage in the region. Whether on the Garden State Parkway, Long Island, or the borough of Brooklyn, people have been waiting hours in line for gasoline — when they have found a place to tank up at all.
The crowd in Brooklyn, on Thursday was calm enough, though there had been tension. Smoking behind the station, an attendant said, “people were not being very nice and I stopped selling.” It was not clear what had happened or what started him selling again, but a handful of NYPD officers were present to monitor access to the pumps, permitting people to cross a yellow “Crime Scene Do Not Cross” tape barrier at intervals.
NYPD Sergeant Smith said that there were no arrests but that some people were “acting disorderly.” Some in the crowd said men had been arrested.
A man who left the line without getting gas identified himself as Smiley. He gave up waiting after three hours. He works as a union construction worker around Avenue of Americas in Manhattan and when coming in from Linden Boulevard, he ran out of gas. He didn’t want to take one of the three “bus bridges” being offered by the MTA, saying it’s too difficult to transport his tools on a bus.
Long lines aren’t the only challenge to drivers. It is simply difficult to find gasoline to buy.
“In New York City over 50 percent of service stations are not able to sell gasoline and it could be up to 75 percent,” said Ralph Bombardiere, executive director of the New York State Association of Service Stations and Repair Shops according to a Reuters report.
Dorsey had been in line for two hours. He described his job that he needed to get to that day as involving “transporting mental patients.”
Sherman from Canarsie works in construction and had been driving around since 7 a.m. looking for gas and found it here. After he gets gas, he said he wasn’t going to go to work but “stay put.”
As this reporter was leaving, a man waiting in line approached and said, “Do you know they have been selling five gallons of gas for $100?,” nodding towards the corner of Church and Bedford avenues, occupied by a derelict Shell gas station and a Financial Services business that cashes checks. His smile suggested that after his wait in line, he would bring his gas to the other corner and mark it up for those with less time to wait.