“Transport is pre-eminently a human rights issue — people without access to transport can’t function properly in the society we have built. We have come to tolerate a degree of discrimination against non-motorists far beyond what in recent years has increasingly come to be seen as unacceptable for, say, disabled people or sexual minorities.”
Simon Norton, foreword to the Shropshire Bus Report, 2018
Dr Simon Norton was a world-class mathematician and renowned transport campaigner.
By the age of 17, Simon had competed in the International Mathematical Olympiad three times and gained his first first-class degree. At Cambridge University he continued his research, collaborating on the ATLAS of Finite Groups, which became known as the bible of group theory.
In 1985, aged 33, Simon left Cambridge University and top-level mathematics and turned his attention to his other passion: public transport.
This happened to be the year before the UK government deregulated bus services, leading to their demise in many areas. Simon spent the rest of his life travelling the country by bus and train and becoming deeply involved in local and national groups including Bus Users UK and Campaign for Better Transport to highlight areas of best practice and campaigning for improvements where services were lacking and of poor quality.
In 2014, with support from his brother, Michael and Alastair Hanton, he established the Foundation for Integrated Transport in order to raise the profile of rural transport campaigning and the issue of transport rights.
Among Simon’s core beliefs was that good public transport is a human right, that transport networks should be joined up in a logical way and have minimal impact on the environment.
Simon died suddenly in February 2019, leaving some of his estate to FIT, which serves as a legacy to his radical, principled and meticulous ideas.