ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Free, unlimited rides through CDTA’s route network are coming to some who work in downtown Albany. Starting September 1, those working for hospitality, retail and retail-related businesses that are a part of the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District (BID) will be able to take part in the Universal Access Program.

“The winners today are all the employees who will be affected by this,” Carm Basile, the CEO of CDTA said during Tuesday’s announcement.

The launch of this program was made possible through a partnership with the BID, which works with over 300 businesses in the city. One of those is the Renaissance Albany Hotel, which placed fliers around the building to gauge interest in the program.

“Within two days, we had 29 of our employees that signed up for the program,” said Leola Edelin, the hotel’s general manager. “To put that into perspective for you, that’s about 30% of our staff that signed up almost immediately.”

That eagerness highlights how much of an impact the expansion of the Universal Access Program can be. “Thirty percent of her workforce is signed up and the program hasn’t even begun yet,” Basile said. “That shows the attractiveness and the need, the real need for affordable mobility for people who work in downtown Albany.”

While the program will give employees a free way to get to work and around the Capital Region, the program also hopes to provide a boost to local businesses, especially as they continue to combat the challenges of inflation and a competitive labor market.

“It is going to give us a competitive edge over other markets and help us retain and attract the employees that we need in order to be successful,” said Edelin.

Currently, CDTA works with dozens of local colleges and businesses as part of the Universal Access Program, with this initiative drastically expanding the impact of the program. Basile says the transportation network has been working for years to find a way to connect this type of resource with small businesses, crediting the BID as the perfect way to bridge the gap to bring this program to downtown employees.

Present and future employees within the BID district will be able to get unlimited rides from their employer through Aug. 31, 2023.