The decline in the number of O-licences in circulation continues, according to the latest report from the traffic commissioners.

The number of licences in issue fell by 3,000 last year, from 84,072 in 2011-12 to 80,894 in 2012-13.

Licence numbers have been falling since 1999-2000 when there were 110,067 in circulation, with only 2002-03 and 2007-08 bucking the trend by showing slight increases.

The latest report, published last week, shows 303 O-licences were revoked in 2012-13, compared with 322 in 2011-12, while the number of suspensions rose from 97 to 135.

In the report, North East TC Kevin Rooney said: “It is impossible to miss the continuing downsizing of the GB commercial vehicle fleet, both in terms of vehicles specified and numbers of operators.

“The business realities that cause this shrinkage play themselves out day-in, day-out in the public inquiry room, whether it be an application following a pre-pack administration or an operator who has cut costs on maintenance or not replaced his fleet,” he said.

Licence holder disqualifications went up from 37 to 45, while those for transport managers rose from 57 to 67.

TC for Scotland Joan Aitken said she remained concerned about the quality and authenticity of some transport manager arrangements: “For every revoked or insolvent operator there seems to be a phoenix.”

Senior TC Beverley Bell said 2012-13 has been a busy year for the commissioners, not just in carrying out their regulatory roles but also in their engagement with the industry.

She added: “I look forward to working on behalf of commissioners with [Vosa and DSA chief executive] Alastair Peoples and his board over the coming year to ensure that we are properly resourced and financed, for without this we cannot be effective.”

The new name for the combined agency consisting of Vosa and the DSA was revealed last week.