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Why hours-long lines for gasoline aren't easing in Sandy-hit areas

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“The system was not designed for everyone to buy fuel at the same time,” says Jeff Lenard, vice president of the National Association of Convenience Stores in Washington. Most gasoline is sold at convenience stories such as 7-11 or WaWa nationwide.

Mr. Lenard says most tanker trucks carry about 10,000 gallons of fuel. He estimates it takes the average motorist about 6 minutes to fill up their car. At a typical eight-pump station, he estimates the average gas station in the New York area is going through 800 to 1,000 gallons per hour now.

“That means the typical store has about 10 hours of supply,” says Lenard.

Lenard says it’s understandable that gasoline stations have run low. “Mass transit is still hobbled if not crippled,” he says, “so people don’t have other options other than their cars.”

In addition, Lenard says it’s human nature to react to a line at a gas station. “People see the line and wonder if they should get in it,” he says.

Some of the worst places for gasoline lines are in New Jersey and Long Island, says Avery Ash, manager of regulatory affairs AAA in Washington. He says 45 percent to 50 percent of gas stations are operational in the Garden State while 35 percent to 40 percent are operational on Long Island. This is a slight improvement from Thursday.

“It means they operated at some point today, but it does not mean they had gasoline all day,” he says. “This continues to be an issue of electricity,” says Mr. Ash.

The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), which supplies most of the electricity for Long Island, says it does not expect to get most residents back on its grid until the weekend of Nov. 10 at the earliest.

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