Utah Transit Authority and government officials met Wednesday to break ground for a new facility to help meet the needs of the growing number of bus riders in the Provo-Orem area.

The UTA Timpanogos Division's new operations and maintenance facility, 1110 S. Geneva Road, is scheduled for completion in March 1990 and will have a fleet capacity of 60 buses with the ability to expand to 100 buses.When UTA came to the area in 1985, ridership was at 680,000 in the first year. By 1987 it was at 998,000. UTA officials have projected ridership to be at 1.24 million by the end of this year.

"Public transit has been a positive force in the area since the service began," said Craig Rasmussen, UTA spokesman. "The Provo-Orem employees have provided that success. They are a very professional team."

The new Timpanogos Division will be composed of the most technically advanced facilities for transit bus operation and maintenance, UTA officials said.

It includes covered parking, four repair stations with hydraulic hoists, three preventive maintenance stations with mechanics' pits, high-speed fueling operations, high-speed drive-through bus washer with water reclamation system, two detail cleaning stations, one steam cleaning station with hydraulic hoists and a standby electric power generator.

The complex also will feature a new concept in fare retrieval. The fare boxes in each bus will be removed and taken into the security building. No employee will touch the money until it is in the building.

Total cost of the 32,524-square-foot facility will be $6.3 million. Most of the funding will come from a federal government agency, the Urban Mass Transportation Administration. UTA will fund the rest, about 20 percent of the cost, Rasmussen said.

The facility will be built on an 8.5-acre site and replace the building at 1111 W. First South in Provo.

Rasmussen said both facilities have about the same total square footage, but the setup in the new facility will be more efficient.

"The major benefit is in the way the building is situated. Space is divided up more efficiently."

The facility will serve Provo and Orem and the Salt Lake-Provo express routes.