Why/how does odd/even gas rationing help?

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Someguy945
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Why/how does odd/even gas rationing help?

Postby Someguy945 » Thu Nov 08, 2012 9:26 pm UTC

http://www.newsday.com/long-island/offi ... -1.4202164

I don't deny that the gas rationing technique used in New Jersey and now Long Island may help shorten lines. I'm just confused as to how it helps. It seems to me that the same number of people still buy the same total amount of gas.

Forcing different people to buy on specific days certainly reduces the worst case scenario (every eligible buyer heading to the station at the exact same time) but at the same time, doesn't this system encourage people to buy gas in situations when they don't need it immediately because they won't have another opportunity for a while?

Does anyone have a simple explanation for this? Am I just overthinking it?

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Re: Why/how does odd/even gas rationing help?

Postby SecondTalon » Thu Nov 08, 2012 9:28 pm UTC

Someguy945 wrote:It seems to me that the same number of people still buy the same total amount of gas.
...in a more dispersed time frame.

And that's why. They can only move so much gasoline on a day, and they can only make so much gasoline to be moved in a day. That it's all getting purchased anyway is irrelevant, if they can make it so the gas lasts longer, stations are less likely to run out before the next shipment or at least less likely to run out when the next delivery is still 12 hours away.
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Re: Why/how does odd/even gas rationing help?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Nov 08, 2012 9:47 pm UTC

It doesn't actually make gas last longer, but it does mean only half the people are sitting in line on any given day. Over the same two day time frame, just as many people are getting gas(assuming saturation, as is the case here), but people sitting in line does suck...

Of course, this is somewhat circumvented by people with multiple vehicles.

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Re: Why/how does odd/even gas rationing help?

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:38 am UTC

You are looking at the end user. This isn't about the end user, this is about production. It's not about making it last longer, it's about making it. They already know they cannot keep up with demand. Over a four week period just as much gas will be sold as it would have been in a three week period or so, but this gives them an extra week to make more.


They know they can only make and distribute 4000 units a day. They know there is a 10,000 unit demand per day. Splitting it means a 1000 unit demand goes unsatisfied, not a 6000 unit demand.
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Re: Why/how does odd/even gas rationing help?

Postby Meteoric » Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:33 am UTC

But demand isn't reduced by such a limitation. The 10k demand from day n is still there, but half just ends up buying gas the next (or previous) day. So that extra 5k demand for day n wasn't removed at all, it just got moved to days n+1 and n-1. And meanwhile, an equal amount of demand from days n-1 and n+1 was moved to day n, and there's still 10k worth of demand on that day, of which 6k will go unfilled. Or I'm just totally failing to understand the distinction you're making?

So... yeah, I'm also kind of puzzled how that helps. It does maybe limit the potential for a run on the gas stations, so there's less risk of suddenly running out for one day, but I wonder if a large part is the psychological effect, that having an actual restriction rather than just an announcement or something makes more people go "oh, gotta conserve gas" and adjust their consumption habits.
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Re: Why/how does odd/even gas rationing help?

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:11 pm UTC

You are failing to make the distinction I am making or, more likely, I am explaining it poorly. That and re-reading what they are doing... They can make 6000 units for a 10,000 demand.

The 10k units of daily demand represent the amount of gas sold on a normal day, not the amount used that needs replacing. Normally, they are the same - 10,000+ units a day get made, 10,000 units get used, 10,000 units get purchased.

They cannot currently make 10,000 units a day. 10,000 units a day are still going to be used, but only 6000 are being made and only 5000 purchased. So, yes..some people may run out, but most likely people will just buy before they normally would. If I normally buy at a quarter tank, I'll now buy at a half-tank. The amount of gas I use in a three week period isn't changing. How I buy it is. And that's what they want.

The whole point has nothing to do with consumer demand, so perhaps I shouldn't use that word. The whole point is to make sure stations aren't drained every day so police, fire and EMS can get gas. So yes, moving demand to n-1 and n+1 is the idea. Moving consumer demand, not removing. Like borrowing money or something, they're borrowing time to make gas.

If in all this people adjust their driving habits to create a reduction in consumer demand, neat. But that's a bonus, not the point. The point is borrowing time.
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Re: Why/how does odd/even gas rationing help?

Postby DavidH » Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:50 pm UTC

Most importantly having desperate people wait in line for gas and having the station run out tends to lead to violence and/or riots.

Limiting the people per day helps make sure people who wait in line will actually get the gas. It's better to know you can't get gas that day than to wait in line and not get it.

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Re: Why/how does odd/even gas rationing help?

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:58 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:You are failing to make the distinction I am making or, more likely, I am explaining it poorly. That and re-reading what they are doing... They can make 6000 units for a 10,000 demand.

The 10k units of daily demand represent the amount of gas sold on a normal day, not the amount used that needs replacing. Normally, they are the same - 10,000+ units a day get made, 10,000 units get used, 10,000 units get purchased.

They cannot currently make 10,000 units a day. 10,000 units a day are still going to be used, but only 6000 are being made and only 5000 purchased. So, yes..some people may run out, but most likely people will just buy before they normally would. If I normally buy at a quarter tank, I'll now buy at a half-tank. The amount of gas I use in a three week period isn't changing. How I buy it is. And that's what they want.


Yeah, but that doesn't reduce the amount consumed. If you have saturation of the market, you're literally selling constantly the entire time you're open. It really doesn't matter who you sell to, the total volume is going to be the same.

It's a way to mitigate the waiting related problems, since having a line half the size is obviously better, but it shouldn't affect overall consumption much. People are still gonna be in lines until supply and demand reach equilibrium again.

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Re: Why/how does odd/even gas rationing help?

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:40 pm UTC

It spreads out the amount consumed, not reduces it. This isn't about reduction. It's about spreading it out. They literally can't keep up with production right now. Spreading out the amount consumed doesn't reduce overall demand, but it reduces daily demand. And that's what the current gas rationing is about - reducing daily demand at the expense of increasing overall demand for the next % weeks.


The total amount consumed in a week period is unchanging. The amount being sold in a week probably isn't even changing that much. But the amount needing to be produced and moved in a single day (a seventh of that week period) is what is being changed. Pre-hurricane, the need was for 10,000 units a day. They cannot make 10,000 units a day today. So they reduce the amount that can be sold in a day from 10,000 units to 5,000 units as their production is currently 6,000 units. Once they get production back to 10,000 units, they can remove the ration.
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Re: Why/how does odd/even gas rationing help?

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:50 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:The total amount consumed in a week period is unchanging. The amount being sold in a week probably isn't even changing that much. But the amount needing to be produced and moved in a single day (a seventh of that week period) is what is being changed.


I don't disagree with the first two sentences. I *do* disagree with the third one.

If the volume being sold in a week is the same, then the average volume being sold per day of that week is also the same. It can't be anything else. Therefore, daily sales are unchanging.

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Re: Why/how does odd/even gas rationing help?

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Nov 09, 2012 3:53 pm UTC

Then I am explaining it poorly.
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Re: Why/how does odd/even gas rationing help?

Postby SurgicalSteel » Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:40 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:If the volume being sold in a week is the same, then the average volume being sold per day of that week is also the same. It can't be anything else. Therefore, daily sales are unchanging.
Key here being the word "average." To use Sexy's numbers, it's better to sell 10,000 units over 2 days and have 1,000 units left over every day for first-responders than it is to sell all 6,000 units one day, and have nothing left over for first-responders. The rationing helps ensure that consumption doesn't bunch up into a couple of days, leaving empty pumps for other days.
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Re: Why/how does odd/even gas rationing help?

Postby Deva » Sat Nov 10, 2012 3:47 am UTC

Is this helpful?

Article wrote:A reporter driving on Middle Country Road (Route 25) from Coram to Huntington Station in late morning found 17 gas stations pumping fuel and 11 closed. Most that were open had no lines, and none was longer than about 20 vehicles.

"You still have a lot of stations closed but it is improving daily," said Kevin Beyer, president of the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association.

The odd-even system was instituted by Nassau and Suffolk to reduce waits that had stretched into hours and to reduce anxiety and panic-buying that was exacerbating the shortage, public officials said.

"The lines are shorter by definition," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said at a news briefing Friday. "And I hope these shorter lines get people to relax."


Edit: Rule of Calculus: Draw a picture. Recommends a cell-based image. What is the demand each day? How much is the deficit (or surplus) each day? (Add unfilled demand to the next day.)
Changes its form depending on the observer.

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Re: Why/how does odd/even gas rationing help?

Postby NoKidding » Sat Nov 10, 2012 7:08 am UTC

funny, I just spent 30 minutes at a bar trying to figure out the same thing. We didn't really get anywhere.

As Tyndmyr gently points out, if the weekly sales don't change, then the daily average doesn't either.

The same point can be made with the number of users. Without rationing assume that 10,000 try to get gas on Monday and 10,000 try to get gas on Tuesday. Odd/even plate distribution will be very close to 50/50. Each day 5000 odds buy and 5000 evens buy.

After rationing, 20,000 people will still try to get gas on those two days, except that all the odds will go on Monday and all the evens on Tuesday. Won't you still have 10,000 people trying to get gas each day?

On the very first day, there may be people who don't advance their purchase by a day to avoid their ban on the second day, but that impact wouldn't seem to last more than a day or two.

Still curious if anyone has any other ideas. Doesn't seem like the question has much to do with first responders.

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Re: Why/how does odd/even gas rationing help?

Postby You, sir, name? » Sat Nov 10, 2012 9:34 am UTC

Are vanity plates even or odd?
I edit my posts a lot and sometimes the words wrong order words appear in sentences get messed up.

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Re: Why/how does odd/even gas rationing help?

Postby Magnanimous » Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:29 pm UTC

Most of the ones that I've seen were pretty odd.

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Re: Why/how does odd/even gas rationing help?

Postby Deva » Sat Nov 10, 2012 3:54 pm UTC

Classified numberless plates as odd.
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Re: Why/how does odd/even gas rationing help?

Postby musashi1600 » Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:01 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:It doesn't actually make gas last longer, but it does mean only half the people are sitting in line on any given day. Over the same two day time frame, just as many people are getting gas(assuming saturation, as is the case here), but people sitting in line does suck...


It might help by reducing the amount of gas burned by people idling in line (since the lines are shorter), which would help maximize the supply of gas.
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Re: Why/how does odd/even gas rationing help?

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Nov 12, 2012 2:45 pm UTC

True, but I imagine that's marginal at best. I assume the increased demand is strongly linked to generator consumption, and idling is generally decently light on usage. Still, it's something, and having people wait in line for lengthy times is inefficient by any measure.

Rising prices would likely be a more efficient way to solve this, but sadly, gasoline demand usually isn't the most flexible of demands, so it'd probably spike pretty substantially.

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Re: Why/how does odd/even gas rationing help?

Postby stinch » Fri Nov 16, 2012 7:45 pm UTC

The town I live in has a big road from the south. It reaches the centre of the town and branches off. Both branches head north but one veers off to the east and the other veers off to the west. Both branches happen to have petrol stations at approximately the same distance from the centre of town.

Back where there where protests at refineries I walked past both stations on my way to work. At the western fork station there where a few cars as normal. The eastern fork however was chaos. Probably 30 odd cars queuing up blocking the pavement and slowing down traffic.

As the crow files these petrol stations are less than 75mtr apart so why was only one of them packed? It's just because traffic on the eastern fork is a lot heaver. When the traffic is busy it's normal for the petrol station to be running flat out as it is a pretty small station. So people would be driving along, see the full petrol station, panic and join the queue.

A shortage or even the hint of one changes peoples behaviour. Especially when it is something that would be extremely inconvenient to run out of.
With a petrol shortage people might actually use less fuel overall as they try to conserve it. However they also try to keep their tanks as full as possible which can result in a huge increase in the number of trips to a filling station. You get people queueing to fill the tank in their second car despite the fact it was 3/4 full in the first place and they don't even need to use the car. Or instead of the usual one trip to fill up with $80 of fuel they make 16 trips @ $5 each.

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Re: Why/how does odd/even gas rationing help?

Postby endolith » Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:59 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:It doesn't actually make gas last longer, but it does mean only half the people are sitting in line on any given day.


How so? The people who can't get gas today won't be waiting in line, but the people who can't get gas tomorrow will be. The total number of people in line will be the same, just as the total number of people filling their tanks will be the same, whether you have odd-even rationing or not.

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Re: Why/how does odd/even gas rationing help?

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Nov 28, 2012 2:22 am UTC

endolith wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:It doesn't actually make gas last longer, but it does mean only half the people are sitting in line on any given day.


How so? The people who can't get gas today won't be waiting in line, but the people who can't get gas tomorrow will be. The total number of people in line will be the same, just as the total number of people filling their tanks will be the same, whether you have odd-even rationing or not.


Depends on severity of the shortage. At highershortage levels, literally everyone is after gas every day. Then you get something like a halving of people in line(probably somewhat less in practice. Multi car families are common, and by random chance, many of them should have a mixture of even/odd plates).

At lower shortage levels, the situation is as you depict, and the benefit is lower. It depends on how much the average person wants to use compared to how much they can store. I'd assume that for most users, storage capacity is fairly low, as most people don't prep extensively for such situations. Having a backup generator and a few gas cans is probably already well above average preparedness.


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