Reversing a longstanding policy, the Interstate Commerce Commission said yesterday it will begin to consider rate competition in granting new operating rights for trucking services.

The commission said its change in policy will stimulate innovative pricing and service options promote efficient and well managed operations, and encourage rate competition. "Furthermore... increased efficiency and productivity by all carriers will be encouraged which will help control the cost of transportation and inflation," the ICC said.

The vote for the policy change was 5-1, with member George M.Stafford concurring in part and dissenting in part.

The policy statement the culmination of a proceeding begun a year ago, is just one of a series of steps the ICC has taken recently to reduce federal regulation and increase competition in the trucking industry.

In the past, the commission had refused to consider offers by applicants to cut rates in operating rights proceedings on the grounds that shippers who were dissatisfied with their rates could challenge them in complaint proceeding.

The new policy will allow the commission to consider such rate promises when an applicant seeks to provide new service. The ICC said it will require applicants who make lower rates an issue to prove their ability to offer the proposed service at a lesser rate than existing carriers.