Rationing Seeks To Provide Order [VIDEO]
New Jersey drivers are finding it hard to cope with gas rationing.
Drivers with license plates ending in an even number can buy gas on even-numbered days, and those with plates ending in an odd number on odd-numbered days. Drivers with vanity plates that have no numbers can buy gas on odd-numbered days.
The rationing is in effect in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Morris, Monmouth, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties.
At one gas station in Jersey City on Saturday, police kicked out one driver who was trying to hold a spot for someone else.
"If everyone complies with this system, it will ease lines and wait times and create a less stressful situation for everyone involved," Gov. Chris Christie said Saturday, speaking in the parking lot of a church where the Federal Emergency Management Agency set up a center to help people file claims.
At one Jersey City Sunoco station, city police officers waved motorists in and out to expedite the process, and they kicked one driver out of line because that person was trying to hold a spot for someone else.
One officer said a woman claiming to be pregnant tried to cut the gas line, claiming she was about to deliver, and a pillow popped out of her shirt as she walked around.
Jessica Tisdale, of Totowa, waited in her Mercedes SUV for 40 minutes with her even-numbered plate -- Saturday was for odds -- and a half-tank of gas. She wanted to try to fill up just in case. She didn't quite understand the rationing, which she heard about Friday night.
"Is it the number or the letter?" she asked around 12:10 p.m. "I don't think it's fair. I've been in the line since before noon. I don't think it's fair. There's no clarity."
A police officer saw her plate and ordered her out of line, wagging his finger at her and then pointing her to the passing lane of traffic.
"That's not fair," she said. The officer threw up his hands and shrugged.
Raj Khindri, who works at the station, said the system was working well. "Everything is good. Everyone is compromising," he said. "I have a good relationship with the terminal. That's why I have gas."
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) has set up a hotline for gas stations to report issues they are having with power and receiving supply. Reports can be sent by email to SandyGas@njeda.org, or by calling 609-858-6900.
The problem isn't a shortage of gasoline. There's plenty in the area. It's sitting tantalizingly close, in the tanks of ships and on shore terminals and even at gasoline stations.
Among the surest signs: Prices for wholesale gasoline in New York Harbor, a major trading hub, have hardly budged. Sellers would love to get rid of their gasoline if they could.
One reason prices haven't spiked is that the storm and its aftermath have canceled countless car trips that would normally have occurred — to and from work and trips out of town. Fewer such trips mean less demand for gasoline. That keeps a lid on prices.
Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service said drivers seem to fear that stations will be out of gas for a week or more. But the problem will be long over, he said, by the time many people would normally need to fill up.
"There are some people who need it, but there are a lot of people who are panicking," Kloza said. "There's plenty of fuel. This will be over in days."