NYC’s Bloomberg Announces Plan To Ration Gas Using Odd-Even License Plate Numbers

Oh, Bloomie! You and your harebrained schemes! Where do we start with this one… New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced this afternoon that his office is instituting an interesting plan for rationing gas in the city, in order to deal with fuel shortages caused by Hurricane Sandy. Judging from the “Wha huh but huh?” responses we’re seeing on Twitter thus far, there’s bound to be some confusion.

In a series of Tweets on his page as well as the NYC Mayor’s Office Twitter account, Bloomberg lays out the rules of the plan, which involve scars with odd-numbered license plates filling up on odd-numbered dates and even-numbers on even dates. Got it?

The whole series of Tweets is as follows:

To help cut down gas lines I am issuing an order to alternate the days that drivers can purchase fuel in NYC #SandyNYC #Recovery
Effective at 6 am 11/9: drivers in NYC whose license plates end in an odd number will be able to buy gas only on odd-numbered days
Effective 6 am 11/9: drivers in NYC whose license plates end in an even number or zero will be able to buy gas only on even-numbered days
Drivers in NYC whose license plates end with a letter will be classified as “odd” and may only buy gas on odd-numbered days
Commercial vehicles, emergency vehicles, buses and paratransit vehicles, MD plates & vehicles licensed by the TLC are exempt
NYPD officers will be deployed at gas stations, but we expect that NYers will respect the rule and work together to ensure compliance
This is not a step we take lightly. But given gas shortages and the growing frustrations of NYers, we believe it’s the right step.
For a complete summary of NYC’s new odd-even plate system for gasoline purchases click here: http://bit.ly/PHpq2s  #SandyNYC #Recovery

Where do we start with the questions? Twitter users have been asking things like, “What about vanity plates that have no numbers at all?” or “Does a rental car count as a commercial vehicle?”

This rental question happens to be one I’m facing personally, as I have rented a car for  tomorrow afternoon, and have already been told that it will come with only a small amount of gas due to the shortage. Which is totally fine and more than understandable— but if I can’t fill up at a pump because of the license plate that isn’t even mine, fingers crossed I can make it out of the city in time to find gas somewhere.

Anyone getting gas tomorrow in NYC or anywhere else with rationing programs in place, feel free to relate your experience to us via tips@consumerist.com.

UPDATE: Okay, guys, we’re not so scared. Victoria wrote in to tell us that she’s had an okay time of it so far with a similar rationing plan in New Jersey. She writes:

Just wanted to relay my experience on this. This ordinance has been in effect in 12 counties in NJ since last week due to all the power outages, and it’s actually been very efficient.

The day the gas rationing went into effect, gas lines became significantly shorter and less roads were being blocked; thus, increase in traffic flow. Police were enforcing it by checking license plates though not all stations had police present. In regards to vanity plates, they’re considered odd. Same thing for out-of-state plates; they’re considered odd. The whole odd-even concept is not difficult to remember once you understand it (which is not difficult to begin with, if you’re 10 years old and up).

New Yorkers are smart (generally), so you’ll all be okay.

Thanks for the vote of confidence!

Mayor Bloomberg Signs Emergency to Establish Odd-Even License Plate System for Gasoline Purchases to Reduce Wait Times [MikeBloomberg.com]