TRENTON, N.J. - Gov. Chris Christie on Friday moved to relax the long lines and short tempers at gas stations by ordering a fuel rationing system based on vehicle license plate numbers in 12 counties.
The gas rationing begins at noon on Saturday in these counties: Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Morris, Monmouth, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren.
Christie instituted the odd-even license plate system by executive order to help ease fuel shortages and extended lines for gasoline that have occurred since superstorm Sandy decimated the coast this week.
"The impact of the storm, particularly the continuance of widespread power outages, has created the disorderly sale of gas, including long lines, out of operation stations and stations facing shortages," Christie said Friday night. "This system will ease the strain on those gas stations still operating while we work to bring more online for the public to access fuel, in a manner that is fair, easy to understand and less stressful."
Residents with license plates ending in odd numbers will be able to buy gas on odd-numbered days of the month, and residents with plates ending in even numbers can make gas purchases on even-numbered days. Specialized plates and those not bearing numbers will be considered odd-numbered.
Earlier Friday, the town of Belleville ordered gas to be rationed based on an odd-even license plate system to deal with Sandy's aftermath, such as flooded neighborhoods, destroyed homes and knocked-out power.
Christie says motorists frustrated by long gas lines in northern New Jersey might want to head to South Jersey. He said a quarter of gas stations north of Interstate 195 were open and operating but 90 percent of the stations south of I-195 were in service.
Widespread power outages caused by Sandy left many stations unable to operate their gas pumps.
At a news conference in Brick on Friday afternoon, Christie said he was awaiting an assessment on how many lacked power and how many could not get gas deliveries. He said federal emergency management officials will be delivering generators to gas stations that are equipped to use them.
Legislators on Friday proposed a measure requiring gas stations to have back-up or emergency power.