Area business and civic leaders say they are enthusiastic about the potential expansion of express commuter trains between San Bernardino and Los Angeles.

“The new tracks will help increase mobility, not just from east to west, but also from west to east,” said Randall Lewis, a principal with the Upland-based Lewis Group of Companies, a real estate developer.

“It will be a double benefit,” he said, allowing residents in the Inland Empire (IE) to access jobs in LA and LA residents access to jobs in the IE.

Extra express links to LA will give “workers in LA one more reason to relocate to the Inland Empire,” Lewis said.

“Young professionals, as a whole, are very comfortable taking mass transit,” Lewis said.

“This is a good thing. The IE has been long-neglected. The expansion of commuter trains is a good thing for us. It is important for people who work in LA and for going to Dodgers’ and Lakers’ games, said John Valdivia, a San Bernardino councilman.

Waiting for the 5 p.m. train to Los Angeles Wednesday, Julz Emmi, 21, of Redlands, said the possibility of increased service to and from the San Bernardino depot “is fantastic.”

Improvements are needed to bus service leading to the train depot, she said.

The $80 million project will allow at least one extra daily express train between Los Angeles and San Bernardino, Metrolink officials say.

New express trains would be only making stops in Rancho Cucamonga and Covina, between LA and San Bernardino, shaving about 45 minutes off a one-day trip.

Hints of an expansion come at a time when the city of Rancho Cucamonga plans — for the first time — to charge rail-passengers to park in its expansive parking lot.

That move is likely to reduce boardings in that city.

©2014 the San Bernardino County Sun (San Bernardino, Calif.)