Lines for gas appeared noticeably shorter in Smithtown Friday morning as the first day of temporary mandatory gas rationing went into effect.
A drive along 25A from St. James into Kings Park showed lines with no more than 6-8 cars and wait times at 10 minutes or less. Customers were happy with the change, but station owners said it was a little too late.
The temporary policy requires gas stations in both counties to sell fuel only to drivers with vehicles bearing license plate numbers that correlate in odd/even terms with the day of the month.
“We kind of don’t need it,” said Steve Borella, manager at North Country Gas in St. James. Yesterday, Borella said, waits at his station were about 15 minutes, today it was 10 minutes.
"The Wednesday after the storm was the worst, cars lined up from here to Flowerfields and around the corner to the St. James General Store," said Borella.
About five cars lined up at the CITGO station in Kings Park. The station received gas Wednesday after being out for five days.
“So far, so good,” said Jean Piotrowski, who owns the station with her husband Ed.
“The lines are shorter, but I don’t now if it is because gas is available or if it is due to the odd/even system.” The station is expecting another delivery of gas Friday evening.
Wednesday, Piotrowski said the lines were severe "people followed the tanker delivery fuel to the station."
Customers on line thought the system was working
“I think it is helping,” said a customer identifying himself as Mr. DeAngelis, who was getting gas in St. James. DeAngelis said he is still without power.
“Much better,” said Scott Siebert of Smithtown. Wait times in Stony Brook were decreasing as well.
“I love the new odd and even system,” said Christine Sammon of Stony Brook, whose wait time at the BP Station next to the Holiday Inn on Nesconset Highway was 15 minutes Friday morning. Wait times at the same station were over an hour on Sunday.
On average, customers said they were waiting between five and 15 minutes to fuel up.
“Lines are shorter...less stressed consumers. (I) think it's working,” said Debra Peters through the Kings Park Patch Facebook page.
Station owners don’t necessarily agree, however.
“I don’t like it. It’s not the 70’s,” said Brian Barton, owner of North Country gas. “People need heat, they need gas for their generators. We are supposed to tell them no?” he said. “We should have done this last week, not now.”
Barton has all pumps open with six attendants pumping gas. During the worst of it, his employees would direct traffic and even push cars that ran out of gas while on line.
Only one block up a neighboring station was closed along with three others out of six visited on Friday morning.
Piotrowski, who still does not have power in her Smithtown home, said the rationing came too late. “We haven’t had gas for five days and now that I have it I should turn customers away?”