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Gas Shortages Test Patience of Motorists Following Sandy

  • Peter Fedynsky

Electricity was restored to Lower Manhattan Friday evening, but a continued fuel shortage is creating massive lines at gas stations in New York City and other parts of America’s East Coast. The shortage is testing the patience of motorists.

A New York City policeman directs a motorist to the end the line at a gas station in Brooklyn. And quite a line it is. Drivers here are waiting five hours to get to the head of it. Police are on hand to maintain order and make certain no one cuts in line or exceeds the $50 purchase limit. That amounts to less than 50 liters.

For taxi drivers, the time spent in line is time not earning fares. And rationing means they cannot drive as long as usual. Abdel Kadr says cabbies should be provided special access to gas, because they serve people.

“When you stay in a fuel line for about six or seven hours, you’re exhausted, you’re falling asleep in the cab; you can’t perform the right way," he said.

Many people are walking to gas stations with canisters. Some need fuel for a generator others for a motorcycle. Tony, a construction worker, needs to get his wife to the airport and says it is quicker to wait an hour on foot rather than five hours in a car.

“And I do that a couple of times, I can get to the airport and back, real good. Then I come home and park till everything eases up," he said.

Tony says people at this station have been calm. But flaring tempers have been reported elsewhere. Michael Perez is a construction worker in Manhattan.

“Everybody has a reason to be upset but, you know, some people are just lashing out more than others. So, I just, kind of, keep in mind that people are upset. There's no reason for me to add on anybody else's stress. I'm already stressed as it is," he said.

New York officials tell people they'll feel relieve soon.

Senator Charles Schumer said, “Lines will get shorter. Hot tempers will cool. The prices will go down and your normal commutes will resume. It won’t happen all at once but it will happen in the very near future.”

Officials explain the gas shortage occurred because superstorm Sandy has prevented tanker ships from entering harbor to make deliveries.

The federal government is trucking 45-million liters of fuel to the region, including to New Jersey, where motorists in hard hit areas will be allowed to buy gas on alternate days based on a car’s license plate number.