Ashok Leyland Jan Bus - The hi-tech, low cost approach
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.
Today urban mass transit systems need easy ingress and egress, also an unhindered approach to get to seats or to standing positions without fuss or bother and all of this means an integral-type coach construction and an ultra low floor (sometimes almost to kerb or footpath height, with or without height levelling suspension). To get that ultra low floor inevitably means a move to a rear engine, rear-wheel drive configuration which as has been noted seems to be the way the western world has gone about doing city buses.
However, Ashok Leyland would beg to differ. Using a bit of Indian ingenuity, the engineers at this venerable CV giant have come up with a most striking solution which is cost-effective to boot yet strong and familiar enough for most of our public transport utilities to take to. The basic concept revolves around a front engine layout with clever packaging that gives the bus a complete flat floor beginning from the driver’s office and moving right to the end of the vehicle. Of course there is a slight rounded bump on the floor where the large axle sits but one can make out the gradual slope to shroud that as well in a simple yet intelligent manner.