Questions and answers on the gasoline crisis
Q: How effective will the rationing be?
A: Lines were shorter almost as soon as rationing began last week in New Jersey and initial indications are the waiting time has been reduced in New York.
Another reason why New Jersey has recovered more quickly than New York is its proximity to petroleum supply areas near Philadelphia that were not damaged by the storm. It's far more difficult to transport gasoline from Philadelphia to places like Queens or Long Island, Kloza says.
Q: What has been the impact on gasoline prices?
A: In the days immediately after Sandy, prices in the New York region gained just a few pennies. Experts believed the situation would improve once stations got power back. But once the supply issues became more apparent, prices jumped. The average price for a gallon of regular gas is up 15 cents in New York City in the past week, according to AAA. On Long Island, it's risen 18 cents, to $4.14 per gallon. The average is up just 8 cents overall in New Jersey, but some areas have seen bigger spikes.
Outside the New York region, prices are falling, as they have been for more than a month. Prices are down 7 cents in North Carolina and Virginia in the past week. Even Connecticut prices have dropped about 3 cents. Since Sept. 14, the national average for a gallon of gas has dropped 41 cents. That's because there's plenty of gasoline in most parts of the U.S.
Kloza believes drivers in New York and New Jersey should start seeing lower prices in a week or so.
Q: Can the Internet and Social Media help drivers find gas?
A: Yes. Gasbuddy.com, which collects gasoline prices from thousands of drivers, has a Sandy Fuel Shortage Tracker that helps motorists find stations with fuel by ZIP code. Hess Corp. has a site that shows users how much gas individual Hess stations have. It's updated every two hours. Some drivers have had success using the social media search engine Kurrently.com and typing in their city, town or neighborhood and "gas." They can also search for "has gas" on Twitter.
While helpful, these sites are also indicative of the challenge facing drivers. Hess encourages customers to go to stations with 7,000 gallons of gas or more. As of 3 p.m., Hess stations in central and northern New Jersey were well supplied. But on Long Island, fewer than half of stations reported having more than 7,000 gallons of gas. About 16 had between 2,000 and 7,000 gallons. But the company warns that stations with less than 5,000 gallons could run out in less than two hours.
And drivers should use these sites with caution because the situation is very fluid. AAA recommends calling in advance to make sure a station has fuel.
Q: How much longer will this go on?
A: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg estimates the shortages could last another two weeks. AAA says the problem won't be solved until the terminal and distribution system is restored. That's tough to pin down. For instance, Motiva Enterprises LLC says a timeline for returning its terminals in Brooklyn and Long Island to operation has yet to be determined.
Shore reported from Denver. AP writers Tom Hays, Meghan Barr, Barbara Ortutay in New York and Geoff Mulvihill in New Jersey contributed to this report.
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