Coast businesses hoping for a boost from passenger trains

Coast businesses hoping for a boost from passenger trains

GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Amtrak trains are set to roll from New Orleans to Mobile starting in 2022. And with it comes optimism for businesses in the four cities along the Mississippi Gulf Coast where the trains will be stopping.

Alex Roberts, the co-owner of Monster Subs sees an opportunity to cash in when passengers start stepping off trains in downtown Gulfport next year.

“Once they get off and explore the area, it will just be an easier chance for them to find us and I know we’ll convert them into a happy customer.” Roberts said.

Just down the street from what will be the Gulfport train stop, the District on the Alley opened a year and a half ago. Owner Rob Reid welcomes anything that will potentially bring in visitors.

“Downtown Gulfport doesn’t have the shops and residential like other downtown areas do like Ocean Springs,” Reid said. “It’s great to have that much traffic coming through, that and the aquarium should help all the downtown businesses.”

It’s expected a big chunk of train travelers to the Mississippi Coast would likely come from New Orleans. Reid looks to what’s already been done in another Coast community to become a hot spot for the Big Easy visitors.

“I think a lot of people are going to Bay St. Louis now as part of New Orleans, so if we can get them to come a little further down to Gulfport that will be great,” Reid said.

Many of the businesses around the train stops like Monster Subs, could use a shot in the arm after dealing with the difficulties created by COVID-19.

“As a small business especially in the restaurant industry, we really didn’t know what to expect and we still don’t know what to expect in the future,” Roberts said. “We’re happy to be hanging tight right now, but this coming to our area obviously is going to bring a lot more people here which will help us with the traffic.”

Along with Gulfport, the Amtrak trains will also stop in Bay St. Louis, Biloxi and Pascagoula.

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