Bloomberg to Ration Gas in New York City

Mayor Bloomberg unveils plan to ration gas in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.


Michael Bloomberg announces the drastic action of rationing gas. Many Americans have unpleasant memories of similar rations in the 1970s.

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New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Thursday that the city will begin rationing gas in order to relieve lines at the pump caused by Hurricane Sandy fuel shortages and said police will be deployed at fueling stations. The move evoked images from the 1970s.

Starting at 6 a.m. on Friday, drivers with license plates ending in an even number or zero will be allowed to buy gas only on even-numbered days; drivers with license plates ending in odd numbers will be allowed to buy gas only on odd numbered days. Bloomberg said he will deploy police officers at gas stations to enforce the rule, "but we expect that NYers will respect the rule and work together to ensure compliance."

"This is not a step we take lightly. But given gas shortages and the growing frustrations of NYers, we believe it's the right step," he Tweeted.

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Last week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie implemented a similar rule, but Christie said Thursday he was going to "re-evaluate" the plan this weekend. Gas rationing nationwide was commonplace in the 1970s under Jimmy Carter and led to long lines at the pump. In retrospect, many experts determined that it led to higher gas prices and was a factor in Carter's dwindling popularity.

The move comes after reports of three-hour lines, gas hoarding, and entrepreneurial spirits selling gas for as much as $15 a gallon on Craigslist. Some people even posted ads to the side offering to trade gas for sex.

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Commercial vehicles, buses, and emergency vehicles are exempt from the rule.

"Last week's storm hit the fuel network hard – and knocked out critical infrastructure needed to distribute gasoline," Bloomberg said in a statement. "Even as the region's petroleum infrastructure slowly returns to normal, the gasoline supply remains a real problem for thousands of New York drivers. Earlier today, I signed an emergency order to alternate the days that drivers can purchase gas, which is the best way to cut down the lines and help customers buy gas faster."

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Jason Koebler is a science and technology reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at