The number of buses and lorries on the roads is continuing to fall, according to Government figures.
There are now 6 per cent fewer licensed buses than in 2005 while there are 9 per cent fewer licensed heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) than in 2007, the Department for Transport (DfT) statistics showed.
The number of licensed HGVs at the end of 2011 was the lowest since 1999, with the DfT saying that the decreases in buses and lorries was likely to be the result of the economic downturn that began in 2008.
At the end of 2011, 34.2 million vehicles were licensed for use on roads in the UK of which 28.5 million were cars.
Although the total vehicle numbers rose 0.3 per cent between 2010 and 2011, the annual average increase has been only 0.4 per cent since 2008/09, compared with an average rise of 2.4 per cent between 1996 and 2007.
But the number of light vans registered for the first time totalled more than 263,000 last year – a 16 per cent rise on the 2010 figure of 226,000 and 38 per cent higher than the 2009 total of 190,000.
The DfT figures (to the end of 2011) also showed that the lowest car rate was in north east England where there were only 399 cars per 1,000 people.