A new initiative has been launched to encourage compliance with the face coverings rule on the local bus network.
Extra staff have been deployed by Nexus to ensure that customers are wearing masks on their journeys, unless they are legally exempt.
Northumbria Police will be supporting the initiative – increasing patrols in hotspot areas and when passengers become abusive.
The multi-agency approach is in response to reports that some passengers are still failing to follow the rule.
It builds on a successful programme launched on Metro in the autumn.
The aim is to engage and explain and handout face masks to anyone who needs one. Police will take enforcement action where it is needed.
The Government has said that face coverings are mandatory on all modes of public transport as part of the national effort against Covid-19.
Chief Inspector Ron Charlton, of Northumbria Police, said: “We would like to thank the overwhelming majority who continue to follow the Government’s restrictions which are in place to ultimately save lives.
“We will continue to work hand-in-hand with our partners in order to protect the NHS and the public.
Anybody travelling on the Metro who has any concerns is encouraged to speak to Nexus staff or police.”
Customer Services Director at Nexus, Huw Lewis, said: “We are working to put extra resources into bus interchanges in order to promote compliance with the face coverings rule.
“The overwhelming majority of passengers are wearing face coverings when they need to travel for essential journeys. Recent reports of people failing to follow the legal requirement have increased, so we are taking action to engage with customers.
“Our customer engagement teams will be visible and there to promote the rule and hand out face coverings to anyone who needs one.
“Where necessary the police will take enforcement action and that can lead to a fine of £200 for non-compliance.
“Wearing a face covering on public transport and in shops is mandatory unless you have an exemption. This rule is there to keep us all safe, from fellow customers to our key transport workers, and by following it we can all play our part during this this public health emergency.”
Martijn Gilbert, managing director at Go North East and chair of NEbus, said: "We’re doing everything we can to highlight the importance of wearing face coverings when travelling on public transport, just as you would do when you go shopping.
"We'll also be supporting Nexus' activities by doing checks at interchanges in Sunderland, Gateshead, Metrocentre and Washington, as we did in September with fellow operators.
"It’s important that people remember that wearing a face covering not only benefits them and their fellow passengers, but also the people they return home to."
Nexus customer engagement teams and police officers have stepped up their presence at Haymarket and Eldon Square bus stations in Newcastle, Park Lane Interchange in Sunderland, South Shields transport interchange, and Heworth and Gateshead interchanges.
The focus will be on the late afternoons and the evenings as compliance with the face coverings rule reduces late in the day and through the evening.