Call it the Red Line blues.
Whether it was the March electrical fire near Dupont Circle, the August derailment in Silver Spring or the continuing construction at New York Avenue, this year has seen a series of delays, interruptions and suspensions on Metro's most heavily traveled line.
"It has been a tough year for the Red Line," Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said.
In one incident, a Metro train operator abandoned her post in the Van Ness-UDC Station during the evening rush hour, hopping aboard a train going in the opposite direction and leaving behind hundreds of bewildered commuters. In another, also during the evening rush, Judiciary Square Station was briefly closed after the discovery of a smashed vial containing what turned out to be a relatively harmless white powder.
"It's a pain," said commuter Ted Culp, 57, as he waited on the platform at Farragut North Station yesterday. "It's a great disruption to my life and my lifestyle, and I depend on the Metro system a lot."
The most alarming disruption occurred Wednesday, when an unoccupied train smashed into a second train picking up passengers at the Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan Station. The accident injured 20 people, none seriously, and crippled a line that carries an average of more than 250,000 riders each day.
Full service was restored Saturday at Woodley Park, but for unrelated reasons, Red Line delays remained. Service was suspended for the weekend at the Rhode Island Avenue and Brookland-CUA stations, in preparation for the Nov. 20 opening of the New York Avenue Station.
At 5 a.m. today, the Red Line is set to be operational from end to end, Glenmont to Shady Grove, for the first time since Wednesday.
"Tomorrow is looking good, but it is possible we might have a speed restriction in place around the New York Avenue Station," Farbstein said.
Yesterday, the National Transportation Safety Board continued its investigation of Wednesday's crash, in which an empty Metro train slid backward at 30 mph into a train carrying 70 passengers, stopping only after its rear car climbed onto the roof of the occupied train.
Farbstein said the myriad causes of disruptions to Red Line service this year have nothing in common -- except, of course, that they occurred on the Red Line.
"It's just been very unusual, and so many different types of things have happened, but it does seem as though the Red Line has taken the brunt of it," she said.
Culp said he was among the tens of thousands of riders delayed because of Wednesday's accident. Asked whether he would ever abandon Metro, Culp grimaced and responded like the city native and longtime Metro rider that he is.
"With all the inconveniences, I'd rather ride the Metro than drive," he said. "I just suck it up."