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New York City extends gas rationing; Bloomberg cites holiday travel crunch

Stan Honda / AFP - Getty Images

A New York Police Department officer directs cars at a Shell gasoline station on First Avenue and East 96th Street on Nov. 9 as New York City begins to ration gas according to license plate number.

Gasoline rationing for drivers in New York City has been extended through Friday.

The odd-even license plate system for gasoline and diesel purchase, instituted on Nov. 9 following the aftereffects of superstorm Sandy, was scheduled to end on Monday.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced Sunday he was extending the emergency order, even as the long lines at the pump have diminished. Bloomberg noted the major travel week ahead due to Thanksgiving.

"The odd-even license plate system has worked well and helped to reduce wait times and lines at the pump," Bloomberg said in a statement. "With 30 percent of gas stations still closed and a major travel week coming, I am extending the successful odd-even system on gas and diesel fuel purchases to ensure we do not risk going back to the extreme lines we saw prior to the system being implemented."

Sandy caused significant flooding and damage to petroleum infrastructure throughout the tri-state area, forcing terminals and distribution networks in the region to close. An estimated 30 percent of gas stations in New York still are not operating, and this week is historically one of the heaviest travel weeks of the year, Bloomberg said.

Gasoline rationing on Long Island was lifted at midnight on Friday after eight days. New Jersey lifted its rationing after 10 days.

Some drivers in the Big Apple complained that the rationing was inconvenient. 

“I don’t like it because it doesn’t serve the purpose of getting gas when you need it,” Luis De Pena, 63, told The New York Times. The retired nursing attendant in Manhattan said had to wait an extra day to fill up his car because he did not have the right license plate.

On Thursday, New York state notified 13 gas station operators it's going after them for violating the state law against price gouging.

The 13 stations include two in Nassau County, three in Suffolk County, two in Westchester County, one in Brooklyn, three in Queens and two in the Bronx.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said his office has received "hundreds of complaints" about price gouging after the storm.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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