A community bus service powered by gas and electricity will soon operate in north London if Camden council succeeds in attracting money from Europe and industry for a revolutionary transport scheme, writes Matthew Brace.

The council has asked the European Union and industry for pounds 2m to convert and run minibuses for a two-year trial while it establishes which fuel system is friendlier to the environment.

The service will transport the elderly and the infirm to hospital.

The Accessible Sustainable Transport Integration project, or Asti, is designed to make public transport more efficient and to coax people out of cars.

The scheme follows in the wake of the RAC's new pollution trap, designed to catch vehicles emitting noxious fumes above acceptable levels.

It is being supported by both the gas and electricity industries as well as the Camden and Islington health authority. Local Labour MPs Glenda Jackson and Frank Dobson, the shadow transport spokesman, backed the appeal for financial help last Friday.

'One of the main reasons people use their cars is that they get them where they want, when they want,' Mr Dobson said.

'We need a public transport system which does the same. We don't know if these schemes will work, but what we have to do is try them out.'

Geoff Warren, the borough's principal transport planner, said Asti was long overdue.

'This is a very exciting project and it is extremely important for the health of the environment in Camden, as well as good for the passengers.'

Camden already runs a community network called the Plusbus which offers a scheduled door-to-door service to those people who are unable to use London Transport.