We were very sad to learn that Simon Norton has died. He was an eccentric, passionate and extraordinarily knowledgeable campaigner for better public transport. Smarter Cambridge Transport was just one of many groups to which he imparted his considerable wisdom.
Simon was a mathematical genius, with an algebraic group named after him (Harada-Norton). He worked at Cambridge University until 1985. After this he devoted much of his life to transport campaigning, deeply involved in the Campaign For Better Transport, nationally and locally, Bedford Area Bus Users Society, Cambridge Area Bus Users, Association of British Commuters, Shelford & Whittlesford Rail Users Group and other groups. A large part of Simon’s legacy is the Foundation for Integrated Transport, which he founded with a donation of around three million pounds.
Here is Simon being interviewed in 2012 about rural bus transport in Cambridgeshire:
He doggedly insisted on using public transport when he could have chosen to take taxis. This gave him first-hand experience of the scream-inducing frustrations that ordinary people experience daily. Simon was exceptional in caring about bus services, the most neglected and unloved of public transport modes. Inspired by Paul Mees (author of Transport for Suburbia: Beyond the Automobile Age) and motivated by a deep sense of social justice, Simon campaigned tirelessly for comprehensive, fully-integrated public transport – Swiss style.
Simon’s story was told by Alexander Masters, his former Cambridge tenant, in The Genius in my Basement: The Biography of a Happy Man. The author introduces the book – and Simon’s life – in this highly enjoyable 15-minute presentation: