Andy Burnham (pictured), Mayor for Greater Manchester Combined Authority, said the Covid-19 pandemic won't hold back the region's transport ambitions.
This includes delivering a net zero city region by 2038, introducing a clean air zone (CAZ), as well as a segregated cycling and walking network, centering transport around a moblity as a service offering across all modes and "calling time on an era where the car has been king in too many of our English towns and cities".
Burnham gave a keynote presentation to help kick-off the three-day Virtual Smart Transport Conference, where he underlined the pressures and opportunities facing Greater Manchester.
The conference, which is being held in association with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) on October 20, 21 and 22, features over 45 public and private sector speakers across eight sessions covering all the pressing topics facing the smart transport industry.
Burnham said: "The latest figures from Transport Focus says that 60% of regular transport users have not come back to public transport, since lockdown ended.
"That's having an impact on revenues across the transport system.
"But also the requirements for social distancing are making it very hard to run a transport system in these difficult times."
Clean Air Greater Manchester is currently running its consultation on its CAZ plans, which is due to be introduced by spring 2022.
Under the proposals for Manchester's CAZ, the most polluting HGVs, buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles would pay a daily charge to travel in Greater Manchester.
Burnham believes the CAZ could be a catalyst to bring improvements to public transport by creating an incentive for operators to invest in new, cleaner vehicles.
Burnham wants Manchester's future transport solutions to be "integrated, reliable and affordable".
He said: "We think this is an opportunity to get people to make permanent changes in the way that they move around.
"The first choice for the first mile and the last mile should be walking and cycling, which is why we're building the biggest safe segregated cycling and walking network anywhere in the country under the leadership of our cycling and walking commissioner, Chris Boardman.
"We have plans that are beginning to take shape and we're looking to work with the Government to speed up those plans to build back better."
Burnham opened up a call to the private sector to help Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to deliver the smart transport solutions needed to make change in the region happen and make it happen more quickly.
Burnham added: "Greater Manchester is a place that is always looking to innovate, to change, to look to the new.
"That's what we are doing now with transport. This is a moment of change in our city region that we haven't seen in a generation."
Sign up now to watch all the presentations at Virtual Smart Transport Conference
The full agenda for the Virtual Smart Transport Conference can be accessed online at conference.smarttransport.org.uk/agenda-5 and some of the many topics that will be covered include public and private sector collaboration, decarbonisation of the freight industry, active travel, autonomous vehicles, shared mobility, 'levelling up' towns and the lasting impact of Covid-19 on the industry.
To gain access to all of the presentations across the Virtual Smart Transport Conference and more you can register for FREE entry conference.smarttransport.org.uk.
Delegates that sign-up now and miss any content will be able to watch recordings of any sessions they have missed and reach out to speakers and headline strategic partners through email, chat and one-to-one meetings.
Smart Transport would like to thank its Headline Strategic Partners for their support with this virtual event including ABB, AECOM, Centrica, DAF Trucks, Enterprise, FedEx, Geotab, LeasePlan, Liberty Global, Macquarie, PJA, Raleigh, Renault and Worldline.