By Jim Forsyth
SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - Ride-sharing firms Über and Lyft made inroads into two of the largest cities in Texas this week by winning approval in Dallas and San Antonio, albeit with regulations in the Alamo City they found tough to swallow.
After nearly a year of sometimes heated debate, San Antonio on Thursday approved rules that will allow the smartphone-enabled ride services the right to compete with regular taxi drivers, but with regulations largely fashioned by the taxi industry.
The rules require the part-time drivers carry up to $1 million in liability insurance, equal to the amount professional cabbies have to carry, when they have paying customers in their vehicle.
Insurance requirements decrease on a pro rated basis when the drivers are logged on and available to pick up riders, and when they are using their vehicles for their own purposes.
Ride sharing drivers also are required to pass drug and criminal background checks, and pay fees to the city.
"These are some of the most burdensome regulations we have ever come across, Lyft spokeswoman April Mims said.
The Dallas City Council voted on Wednesday to allow the two companies to operate legally from April of next year, reaching what council members said was a compromise ordinance when it comes to regulating the industry.
The Dallas Morning News reported that under the new rules, hailable vehicles, such as taxis, will still be limited in the rates they can charge, while others' fares will be unregulated.
The city council in Houston gave the green light to the services in August.
(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; editing by Andrew Hay)