Hours-long gas lines remain as Gov lifts restrictions to ease shortage

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Gas rationing in New York City will end tomorrow, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced.THE COURIER/Maggie Hayes
Gas rationing in New York City will end tomorrow, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced.

With millions of New Yorkers heading back to work and limited subway service, many residents hopped in their cars only to find no place to fill up.

“Gas is in short supply,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at the daily press conference updating New Yorkers on the city’s response to Hurricane Sandy.

Senator Charles Schumer announced the reopening of New York Harbor for fuel yesterday to help alleviate the shortage.

Stations need product and the reopening of the harbor will help a great deal, said Ralph Bombardiere, executive director of the New York State Association of Service Stations and Repair Shops.

New York Harbor is the busiest oil port in the world, receiving an average of 900,000 barrels of petroleum products per day, according to the Energy Department.

Cuomo also signed an executive order waiving the states requirements the registration and tax requirement for fuel tankers before unloading at the harbor and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano waived the Jones Act which will bring additional tankers with fuel into the region.

“It’s going to be better in the near future,” Cuomo said.

As of this morning, long lines litter the gas stations throughout the borough that still have gas, with drivers waiting hours.

Other stations are still without electricity, preventing them from pumping gas.

“Those gas stations that have gas have no electricity and stations with electricity don’t have any gas,” said Bombardiere.

Whenever a station does get a shipment of gas, they get mobbed and quickly run out, said Chris Mcbride, community transportation specialist at AAA.

With news of a gas shortage spreading over social media, residents panic and fill up even if they have a half-tank, said Bombardiere.

“A lot of the reserves are in people’s tanks” he said.

This can quickly become a problem in a shortage.

“You wouldn’t want too many people hoarding it, if it means some people have none,” said Mcbride.

The length of the shortage will likely depend on how long power is out in a significant portion of the area, Mcbride said.  If the outage continues much longer, the government will need to get involved, he said.

“Once power is restored, more stations will open and when people see that, there will be less of a rush and less demand,” said Mcbride.

Bombardiere expects “a nail-biting situation until the weekend.” After that the situation should ease each day and by next Friday stations should be fully up and running.