Ashok Leyland Jan Bus – The hi-tech, low cost approach

Low floor buses invariably meant integral construction and a rear engine not to mention a big cost outlay. Not any longer if one has to go by Ashok Leyland’s novel approach with its Jan bus.

There is something about the ‘can do’ spirit which has been imbibed by many of our Indian OEMs as they grapple with the onerous task of delivering worthwhile solutions to mobility while forsaking outright tech for smart thought. Much that very essence pervades the very concept of the Jan Bus (Jan as in janata, public) that has surprisingly come from the uber staid and not to mention, ultra conservative Ashok Leyland.

This is certainly a good time for one of the country’s pioneer commercial vehicle manufacturers to stand up and not just be counted but also spearhead thought and energy into a direction, which can only benefit mass transit public movement. The Jan Bus is, according to Dr V Sumantran of Ashok Leyland, the world’s first front engine, single step entry fully flat low floor bus and that is something that somehow has never entered the mind set of the big MNC CV specialists.

The Jan Bus is a clever reading of rules and regulations and trying to deliver a simple yet modern package, which is technologically right up there yet is pretty cost effective. Entry to the bus sees one step up to the floor just 650mm from the road surface and if the keeling option is specified then the floor at the entry level drops down to an even more comfortable step height. The bus comes with a choice of configurations as regards doors, single sided twin or three openings or double sided for BRTS application. The doors are wide and swing open and shut hydraulically allowing quick passenger movement both ways. If that is not all, the bus can be configured in areas of seating as well as door placements plus it can also be pressed into service not just as the favoured BRTS vehicle of choice but also in airport tarmac applications and normal city transport.

The overall exterior look is clean and distinctive and what really was impressive given that the likes of Volvo have made buses get a decided upmarket sheen to them these days is the fact that the Jan Bus is so very sanitary. It is clean, cool and uncluttered plus its overall design with soft rounded corners also helps minimise pedestrian injury should there be a mishap. Dr V Sumantran informed me that the Ashok Leyland team has applied for no less than 16 patents on the construction and configuration of the Jan Bus and that they were not going to stop having seen the advantages of the layout and the way it affords cost effective solutions for a lot of our government funded transport utilities.

In fact, Dr Sumantran said that for the price of three rear-engined city buses by any of the high profile MNC bus makers presently operating in the country, one could get five Jan Buses and more importantly also have significant savings in operating costs as well. The Jan Bus is equipped with a brand new 235HP turbocharged MPFI engine fuelled by CNG, which is BS4 compliant. Ashok Leyland’s proprietary Leymatic AMT (automated manual transmission) system is mated to this engine and helps improve driver efficiency and reduces fatigue by doing away with strenuous clutch operations and repeated gear shifts.

This isn’t a bus like in the past from Ashok Leyland. The Chennai-based truck and bus maker, a part of the Hinduja Group, is now shedding its overt conservatism for modernity and it shows in the way the seats and seating layouts have been crafted, the modicum of style inherent in the interior to make it fresh and appealing, the clever bits to bring better ergonomics even to those who would journey standing. Infotainment systems for the passengers, a host of driver aids for better control and safety plus also of course enhanced efficiency all around combine to make this a bus ripe for the times. That it has come from Ashok Leyland is a pleasant surprise and a harbinger of hope to many impoverished transport utilities in the country.

Source: Zigwheels(dot)com


  1. leyland low floor buses currently used in kerala under jnnurm scheme are worst quality. never expected this from leyland. tata low floors are preferred as they works good and proven. but, looking at jan bus from hinduja-leyland it is a front engined bus old school engine also? so it may be success.

  2. anyone with knowledge of leyland buses and it’s engines? I’ve grown up in the start of 1980s as a kid seeing leyland buses of 70s ..the buses sound like a growling of lion…:P later I learned that these are 1950s-60s British Leyland(Leyland motors) with Leyland 0.400/0.375 engines with 4 gears only. it is called locally as AL375/400 and the sound of the engine is absolutely lovely and nostalgic. I can find only videos from England of these Buses. these original leyland engines are heavily modified in 1980s precisely 1983-84 and Hino technology is incorporated losing the Leyland genuinity.
    I think, We have some 30-35 years old examples(Buses and Lorries) of original Leyland engine as used by Kerala government vehicles as in universities, mobile agri nurseries/book stalls etc. I would love to hear the Leyland Engine note if anyone can upload it to youtube.
    Thank You

  3. Avin J – This is a truly beautiful sentiment, I thought only I had!!!! The sound of that engine was a sound of bigness. Takes me back to my school days some 35 years back, at Chennai. I used to skip the Tata buses and travel only by Leyland to get that sound and smooth feel. They maintained more or less the same engines, till I think the Vikings got heavily infused with Hino technology. For about 7-8 years of school ad college, I used to sit on the side seat next to the engine. Kinda gets into you. Its unfortunate that now both AL and Tata share the same Cummins engine, although it still sounds better on a Leyland.

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