NEW YORK - New York City began its first day of fuel rationing Friday but there was relief for tens of thousands of people who got back electricity disrupted during superstorm Sandy.
Rationing was ordered in response to massive lines at gas stations, with cars carrying odd numbered license plates allowed to fill up on odd-numbered dates and even plates on even days.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a radio interview he didn't know if the scheme, already in place in New Jersey, would bring relief.
"There's no guarantee that odd/even is going to make a big difference. It's certainly not going to make for more gas," Bloomberg said. "In New Jersey there is some evidence that the lines were shorter."
Meanwhile, the US Department of Energy said that electricity outages were being steadily reduced, although power companies say that some neighborhoods will remain in the dark for many days to come because flood damage was so severe.
According to the latest figures, 492,080 homes and businesses remained without power across the region, down from 761,418 late Thursday.
In New York State alone, the number was 230,889 customers, or three percent of the total. That was down from 343,211 customers on Thursday.
The energy department said that 28 percent of gas stations in the New York area still did not have fuel, but that this was down from 38 percent two days ago.