New York City and Long Island drivers will have to check their license plates before attempting to get in line for gas in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.
More than a week after Sandy blew through the Northeast, drivers are still frustrated and angry over the long lines at gas stations, which has prompted New York City and Long Island to impose a gasoline rationing system.
Police will be at gas stations Friday morning to enforce the new system that will allow drivers with license-plate numbers ending in an odd number to get gas on odd days and even license plates numbers to get gas on even days. License plates ending in letters are considered an odd number.
Buses, taxes, limousines, commercial vehicles and emergency vehicles are exempt from the plan, as are people carrying portable gas cans.
More than 500,000 customers are still living without power in the region and many need the fuel to keep generators running in these frigid temperatures.
"We have to do something," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday. "This is practical and enforceable and a lot better than doing nothing."
Bloomberg said only a quarter of the city's gas stations were open. Some were closed because they were out of power, others because they can't get fuel from terminals and storage tanks that can't unload their cargoes.
"I think that makes sense. I think that should have started from the beginning. I think it would have eased up, and you wouldn't of had this these long lines," a Queens, N.Y., driver told ABC News station WABC-TV.
The long lines for gas are eerily reminiscent of the dark days of the 1979 energy crisis under President Jimmy Carter, the last time a gas rationing system was put in place.
Officials said something needed to be done so everyone, both drivers and people using gas to fuel generators, can have their chance at a fair share.
"This is designed to let everybody have a fair chance, so the lines aren't too oppressive and that we can get through this," Bloomberg said.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie implemented a rationing system shortly after the demand for fuel became too great. Christie has said that the new rules have curbed lines from more than three hours to under an hour.
The rationing system comes two days after a nor'easter blew through the area, knocking out power to those who just got it back from superstorm Sandy.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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