Coach service began in 1937 following the amendments to the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway Act that allowed the then Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway to operate buses in Northern Ontario.
Ontario Northland Motor Coach Services operates passenger and parcel transportation service between Toronto (from the Toronto Coach Terminal and Yorkdale Bus Terminal) and locations in Central and Northern Ontario.
There are two scheduled routes running North-South between Toronto and Hearst; the Highway 11 corridor, through North Bay and Cochrane, and the Highway 400/69/144 corridor, through Parry Sound, Sudbury and Timmins. There are also routes running East-West between Sudbury and Ottawa and between White River and North Bay.
All buses have complimentary WiFi for passengers which is available wherever a cellphone signal exists. There are scheduled rest stops for passengers every hour and a half or so.
The bus service was suspended when a drivers' strike began on September 29, 2007. The strike left the train as the only public transportation available for many communities; bus service did not resume until December 11, 2007.
In 2012 the provincial government announced the divestment of the crown corporation citing it could no longer subsidize the money-losing operation. The government then cancelled the Northlander passenger train service from Toronto to Cochrane. Then premier Dalton McGuinty vowed to keep the coaches running after the Crown agency is sold off (the number of coaches in service has increased to compensate for the lack of the passenger train service) to continue to provide transit to rural Northern Ontario.
Northern Ontario municipal leaders had continued to express their fears regarding the divestment. They indicated that the ONR provides a fundamental link to many remote and rural communities and provides freight transport to many companies, including mining and forestry, allowing them to thrive. They indicate that the government maintained its funding to the GO Transit network in Southern Ontario and it is important not forget about the important service the ONR provides to Northern Ontario residents. February 2014, the new premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne met with northern community leaders and the head of the company and union to discuss the future of the company. They decided the union and management would present a reconstruction plan to the government for consideration.