Four plainclothes officers were injured, one critically, in a traffic accident last night when the car in which they were riding collided head-on with a Metrobus on New York Avenue NE, District police said.

The bus, which was out of service and on the way to a Metro garage, was swerving to avoid another car in the westbound lane of New York Avenue when it hit the median and skipped over to the eastbound lanes, police said. The bus collided with a Cadillac Seville in which the four officers were riding at 8:05 p.m., police said.

Police identified the driver of the police car as Officer Robert W. Holland, 40, a 17-year veteran, who was listed in critical condition.

The other officers, all listed in serious condition, were identified as Bradley Belden, 28, a five-year member of the force; Jerome S. Craney, Jr., 37, a 17-year veteran, and Michael W. Johnson, 27, a three-year member.

All of the officers are assigned to the vice unit of the 5th District. The driver of the Metrobus was not injured, and there were no passengers on board.

Holland was trapped for nearly an hour, police said. While a police helicopter waited on the ground in the eastbound lanes of New York Avenue, firefighters pried off the top of the Cadillac, using saws and Jaws of Life equipment.

A Metro spokeswoman said that as the bus approached a Roy Rogers restaurant at 1943 New York Ave. NE a car pulled out at a high rate of speed, causing another car to swerve into the path of the bus to avoid an accident.

As the bus veered to avoid the second car, the spokeswoman said, it jumped the center median of New York Avenue in front of the Capital City Inn, 1850 New York Ave. NE and struck the officers' car.