Udall, Heinrich, Luján Announce CARES Act Grant For The PoPay Messenger, Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo’s On-Demand Transit System

New Mexico Delegation

The PoPay Messenger covers over 12,000 square miles and serves 3,000 Tribal and over 11,500 non-Tribal Members of the community

WASHINGTONU.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), along with U.S. Representative Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) announced that the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo Tribal Council is receiving an award of $286,786 in Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Rural and Tribal formula funds through the CARES Act for its on-demand transit system, the PoPay Messenger.

The PoPay Messenger operated by Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo covers over 12,000 square miles and serves 3,000 Tribal and over 11,500 non-Tribal Members of the community free of charge.  The funds will be used for operating costs, to respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and there is no local match required.

“Safe and reliable access to transportation services like the PoPay Messenger is especially important for Tribal communities during this public health crisis so that families can get the resources and health care they need,” said Udall, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. “This additional funding will help the Tribally operated on-demand transit system continue its critical services during this unprecedented and challenging time. As the vice chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, I will keep working to ensure Tribal communities have the full support of the federal government especially during this time of need.”

“Indian Country is being particularly hard hit during the coronavirus pandemic and tribes like Ohway Owingeh are taking on enormous costs to protect their communities’ health and safety,” said Heinrich. “They need our full support to continue essential services like reliable transportation and this award will keep their on-demand transit operations functioning. I will continue doing everything in my power to help our tribal communities and secure the critical funding and resources they need during this prolonged crisis.”

“The Popay Messenger serves thousands of people across the Ohkway Owingeh Pueblo and provides safe and reliable public transportation without cost,” said Luján. “During this pandemic, the Popay Messenger is especially critical to keep essential services running and ensure families can receive the support they need,” said Luján. “I will continue fighting for additional direct relief for local, state, and tribal governments to overcome this crisis and meet the needs of our communities.”