New team launched to address Metro passengers not wearing face coverings
Metro staff will work with passengers not wearing face coverings in an effort to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
A dedicated ‘Face Covering Awareness Team’ has been launched to encourage compliance with the face mask rule on public transport and engage with customers.
It comes as Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, reports that compliance with the face coverings rule reduces late in the day and through the evening.
A new 12-strong customer support team has also been formed to target anti-social behaviour and fare evasion.
Chief operating officer at Nexus, Martin Kearney, said: “Customers have told us that they want to see us proactively managing compliance with the face coverings rule, and dealing with anti-social behaviour, especially at night.
“Nine out of 10 people using Metro wear face coverings as required by law, with others being exempt for health reasons, but we know that a small minority still refuse to comply with the legal requirements.
"This is often linked to other anti-social behaviour such as ticketless travel or groups of young people hanging around stations with little purpose.
“This is something we are committed to dealing with in close conjunction with Northumbria Police and the British Transport Police.
"The team will work closely with the police to deter anti-social behaviour, tackle fare evasion, and move on any groups of youths gathering at stations.
"Anyone who gets caught committing crime on Metro faces prosecution, fines, and even a possible ban from travelling on the system.”
Additional police resources will also be available to support extra patrols and activities in the run-up to Christmas.
The focus will be on 3pm to midnight, with the customer support team wearing a blue uniform to make them noticeable to passengers.
All will be equipped with body-worn CCTV cameras and footage can be accessed by police as evidence to support prosecutions.
Sgt Tim Hand, of Northumbria Police, added: “We have run a number of dedicated operations with Nexus throughout this year to tackle pockets of anti-social behaviour and deal with offenders.
“We want to assure passengers that we, along with all our partners, are committed to ensuring everyone can enjoy a safe and hassle-free journey on the network - and will take swift action against anyone found to be involved in anti-social behaviour.”