As motorists are finally feeling less pain at the pump, with long lines and wait times drastically cut, many are asking what took the mayor so long.
“Last week, I waited for more than three hours on line and got no gas. Today, I waited under a half hour,” said Thomas Colwell, at a gas station at the intersection of Cooper and Myrtle Avenues in Glendale on Monday, November 12. “Why wasn’t this done two weeks ago.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered odd-even gas rationing beginning Friday, November 9, which greatly reduced lines at stations throughout the city even as fuel remains scarce.
While many wondered why New York City didn’t follow New Jersey’s lead and begin rationing the weekend after Sandy, Robert Sinclair, a spokesperson for AAA, said the city may not have realized the scale of the shortage.
“I think the administration was dealing with a problem they didn’t fully understand then,” he said.
Six petroleum terminals that supply fuel for the area remain down, including two in New York— one in Brooklyn, one in Long Island — according to the U.S. Department of Energy. There is no timetable for when the terminals will come back online, Sinclair said.
The scarcity has also led to higher prices: fuel has jumped 15 cents since the storm in the city even as prices have fallen nationwide.
“Demand goes up and the product gets scarcer, the price goes up,” Sinclair said.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced he is launching an investigation into potential price gouging at gas stations in the city.
Under New York state business law, merchants are prohibited from taking advantage of consumers during an “abnormal disruption of the market” by hiking prices to an “unconscionably excessive price.”
Many have been forced to ignore prices out of desperation to fill their tanks. “I need gas, so right now the price really doesn’t matter,” said Joseph Foreman, a Middle Village resident.
Sinclair expects the shortages to remain for at least another week, if not longer, as just 60 percent of gas stations are pumping in the city.
With the deficit remaining, Bloomberg announced on Tuesday, November 13 that the rationing will remain for at least five additional days.