NEW YORK CITY — The city is implementing a new gas rationing plan designed to cut monster lines at the pump, the mayor announced Thursday afternoon.
Starting Friday at 6 a.m., drivers whose license plates end in an odd number, a letter or other character may only buy gas or diesel fuel on odd-numbered days starting Nov. 9, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a press conference.
License plates that end in even numbers, including the number zero, will be able to buy gas only on even-numbered days, beginning Nov. 10.
“The gasoline shortage, as you know, remains a real problem,” Bloomberg said. "It now appears that there will be shortages for possibly another couple weeks."
Bloomberg said the gas rationing system will not include emergency vehicles, commercial trucks and delivery vehicles, cars with medical license plates, taxis and livery vehicles, and medical shuttle buses like Access-a-Ride.
Taxis are included in the exemption from the ban because they're part of the mass transit system, city officials said.
People with hand-held containers will be allowed to fill up any day.
The emergency order, signed Thursday by the mayor, comes after a week of shortages because of Hurricane Sandy, with refineries and pipelines being hit by the storm and then walloped again by the Wednesday nor'easter.
As a result, only 25 percent of the city's approximately 800 gas stations are currently open, officials said.
The new rules should help alleviate some of the strain until the supply is back to normal, the mayor said.
"This is not a step that we take lightly, but given the shortage we will face over the next few weeks...we believe it is the right step," Bloomberg said, noting that a similar system has been working well in New Jersey, where lines are considerably shorter.
“We have to do something,” he said.
Cops will remained stationed at every open gas station in the city to ensure the rules are being enforced, but the mayor said he is also counting on "social pressure" to help "ensure compliance."
He added that drivers thinking about trying to beat the system by swapping license plates will be stopped by police who will be stationed at the pumps.
"Don't try to be cute," Bloomberg said, adding that cops can check the registration information to see whether a license plate is fraudulent.