A gasoline shortage caused by Superstorm Sandy forced 1970s-era rationing on New Yorkers Friday, adding a fuel-gauge obsession to their frayed nerves and dwindling patience.
“I take passenger, I look at gas. I take another passenger, I look at gas,” said New York City taxi driver Shi Shir K. Roy. “Tension all the time.”
Though rationing that allowed private motorists to fill up only every other day seemed to help with gas lines, it didn’t answer motorists’ questions about why they had been waiting for days in hourslong lines to fuel up. The confusion led some, like Angel Ventura, to panic.
Ventura, who drives a delivery van for a camera rental company, has taken to hunting for gasoline every time his gauge drops below a quarter of a tank. “It makes me crazy, thinking I might hit empty and not be able to find it,” he said.
As drivers waited on police-monitored lines, thousands more in the region got their power back for the first time since Sandy came ashore 12 days ago. More than 420,000 customers were still without power in New Jersey and the New York City area. President Barack Obama, who visited the battered Jersey coast two days after the storm, said he would survey the damage in New York next week from the storm, which the American Red Cross said will create its largest U.S. relief effort since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The gasoline rationing — first in the nation’s largest city since the 1970s Arab oil embargo — forced motorists to line up depending on whether their license plate ends with odd or even numbers.