Spotlight: Peter Dabrowski, Transit Operator & Heroism Award Recipient

Published March 21, 2024.

As we commemorate Transit Operator and Worker Appreciation Day, CUTA would like to acknowledge Peter Dabrowski, an exceptional transit operator and recipient of the 2023 CUTA Award for Heroism last fall. We would like to express our gratitude to this exemplary individual for his unwavering dedication to his community and display of courage.

In the heart of the bustling city, where daily routines often blur the lines between individual lives, there’s a quiet heroism that can emerge from the most unexpected places. Among the steady flow of commuters and the rhythmic hum of city life, MiWay Transit Operator Peter Dabrowski embodies this spirit of compassion.

As Peter guided his bus along the multi-story overpass in Mississauga, he saw a teenage boy walking dangerously on the opposite side of a concrete barrier on the Transitway.
“I slowed down immediately because I knew something was not right,” Peter recounted, his years of experience as a transit operator finely tuned to the rhythms of the community. He halted the bus and opened the front door to extend a lifeline to the teenage boy seemingly in distress on the opposite side of a concrete barrier.

For over a decade, Peter had been a familiar face behind the wheel of MiWay buses. Despite considering himself more of an introvert, one aspect of his job resonated deeply with him – the opportunity to connect with the diverse community he served. In the midst of a pandemic that had heightened mental health struggles for many, Peter had keenly observed the increased need for support among his passengers.

Peter insisted on helping the young teen, recognizing the signs of distress that had become all too familiar. He opened the rear doors of the bus, and two passengers courageously stepped out to provide their support. Peter contacted his control center, orchestrating a swift response to the delicate situation.
While they waited for paramedics to arrive, Peter found himself assuming a crucial role as a bridge between the distraught teenager and the 911 operator. His calm and reassuring presence eased the way for police and paramedics to swiftly come to the boy’s aid.

In the aftermath, Peter learned of the personal issues that had left the young teen in a state of turmoil. The boy was now on a path to recovery, receiving the help he so desperately needed. His mother reached out to Peter, her gratitude underscoring the pivotal role he had played in her son’s journey to healing.

Peter’s own life had been touched by tragedy when he lost his brother to suicide 13 years prior. Those painful memories had given him a unique sensitivity to the warning signs of emotional distress in others. Though the incident had stirred old emotions within him, he was happy knowing that the boy had found help without delay.

Peter Dabrowski’s story serves as a reminder of the special role transit operators play in our communities and the importance of compassion and empathy. Transit operators like Peter are often on the front lines, witnessing the complexities of the society we live in. They witness both the best and worst of society, and it is from this vantage point that Peter imparts a broader lesson.

“It’s important to be open to the struggles of other people and try to be understanding where they may be coming from,” Peter emphasized. “In many cases, they’re stigmatized and don’t seek assistance.” His words resonate as a call to action for all of us, encouraging us to be attuned to the silent struggles of those around us and to extend a hand when needed. In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, Peter Dabrowski reminds us that acts of kindness often occur in the simplest moments of human connection.