We see the turbolift on a regular basis, and cramped, awkward ladders in the Jeffries tubes pretty frequently, too. But do Galaxy-class starships have publicly accessible stairways?

If I'm going from sickbay on deck 12 to the shuttlebay on deck 13, can I just take the stairs?

  • I'm pretty sure you can't unless you count Jeffries tubes. We would have seen this at least once.
    – bitmask
    Oct 17, 2013 at 16:37
  • 2
    I did say "Galaxy class", but I've also updated to specifically mention the Enterprise D.
    – Plutor
    Oct 17, 2013 at 17:28
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    Don't see toilets on screen, either (at least not that I remember); doesn't mean there wouldn't be any.
    – John Bode
    Oct 17, 2013 at 21:17
  • @JohnBode Neelix mentioned toilets in Voyager. Not the Enterprise I know, but is shows Starships do have them, it's not just beamed away.
    – NickJ
    Jul 3, 2014 at 10:01
  • 1
    Stairs? What is this, the 21st century? Apr 13, 2016 at 16:25

4 Answers 4


From my experience in the military, I have seen this all too often. It's one of those design issues common to science fiction shows. We love to show you the technology (the sideways-moving turbolift; awesome, right?) but we neglect to show you the stairwells. (Stairs? Who uses stairs in the future? Um, everyone with legs, sir.)

Most likely there ARE stairs, but we rarely see those parts of the ship. Engineering is one of the places we occasionally see stairs.

On a real Navy ship, stairs are condensed, tight and often part of the water containment protocol used to seal separate decks in the case of hull breach. Note the hatch and wheel used to seal the deck during emergencies. Here is an example of what a stairwell looks like on a Naval vessel:

enter image description here

No, it is not sexy. I imagine it wouldn't be a whole lot sexier on a starship, so we just assume there is a means of getting from one part of the ship to another when the turbolift is out.

This appears to be the Federation equivalent. Note the door able to be sealed preventing decompression between decks:

enter image description here

It's a tight fit, so I assume there are lots of these to accommodate the difficulties of navigating them.

  • Enterprise D was a large craft nearly 700 meters long and crewed normal families as well as military personnel.

  • It is more than likely the civilian crew did not use the Jeffries Tube system to get around since they lead to secured sections of the maintenance aspects of the starship. Stairwells of one sort or another had to exist to support non-military personnel.

As strange as it may sound, stairs on a contemporary Navy ship are efficient especially if there is a process for moving up or down during emergencies. There are designate up and down ladders during such emergencies to speed crew to their battle-stations.

  • 3
    It's worth remembering, though, that the Enterprise-D and -E weren't just military ships. They held hundreds of civilians, too. Did they go up and down those ladders? Cruise ships have stairs, even on lower decks, in areas intended for passengers.
    – Plutor
    Oct 17, 2013 at 17:27
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    I'd have to go back and rewatch, but I think in the Abrams reboot, there were at least stairs in between different levels on the upper access walkways in the water tube scene.
    – JohnP
    Oct 17, 2013 at 18:00
  • Yes, though he did not seem to grasp the idea of preventing lens flares, he did seem to think stairs were a necessity. Since his Enterprise was twice the size of the original, they would simply have to exist. Size does matter, for stairs... Oct 17, 2013 at 18:32
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    RE your last bullet point; I'd be astonished if the computer wasn't able to identify personnel and simply refuse to accept a secure destination from a civilian. Oct 17, 2013 at 20:14
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    Because stairs don't need power. Damage a section of the ship and the turbolifts can go offline. Real engineering calls for redundancy and alternatives. Thus, even if we don't see them, stairs just make sense. Apr 13, 2016 at 18:40

There are conflicting answers, but I'm going with a basic answer of "Yes", even though they may not have been shown in films/episodes.

  1. Blueprints by Ed Whitefire show stairs, but these blueprints are contradicted by canon.
  2. Official blueprints by Sternbach also show stairs.
  3. Technically, the two or three steps shown on the bridge between levels constitute stairs.

I would suspect that they would be of limited implementation on any space faring ship, as in the case of a decompression of a deck, if you have a hole (staircase) to another deck, that deck is also going to decompress.

  • 1
    As for #3, I meant stairs between decks, and the Enterprise D only had steps between levels in the "Yesterday's Enterprise" alternate-timeline. Otherwise, it had ramps.
    – Plutor
    Oct 18, 2013 at 13:51
  • @Plutor - That's why I said "technically", I knew what you meant. I'm pedantic that way. :p
    – JohnP
    Oct 18, 2013 at 14:32
  • Stairs on Navy ships are called "Ladders". (US Navy 1976-1980) Stairs on a starship could be in self contained area so decompression can be contained. Perhaps even with hatches that can seal between decks. Stairwells could be made in such a way that each flight of stairs is its own space with a regular wall type door to separated it. That way decompression in one stairwell would be contained only to that flight of stairs.
    – user64688
    Apr 13, 2016 at 15:29

The main bridge design on Generations included some upgrades from the TV series. This includes a short staircase to get up to the command seating area.

enter image description here

As to the question of staircases between decks, the Ed Whitefire and Rick Sternbach blueprints both show two matched staircases that run from behind the bridge down to approximately Deck 13. The Ed Whitefire version specifically refers to this as the ship's "Primary Hull Central Stairwell".

Admittedly none of these blueprint sources are considered fully canon (each has been contradicted by various episodes) it's notable that large chunks of each have been used on the show in background diagrams and episode design.

Rick Sternback Blueprints
enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

Ed Whitefire Blueprints
enter image description here enter image description here

  • Honorable mention: The alternate Enterprise-D from "Yesterday's Enterprise" also features stairs on the bridge: treksinscifi.com/trekdaily/?p=6
    – Philipp
    Mar 4, 2020 at 11:05
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    @PhilippFlenker - I did think about it, but the question asks about the Enteprise-D, not the Warship Enterprise.
    – Valorum
    Mar 4, 2020 at 14:35

Well, both answer say yes. Actually, I would say no...

I seem to recall a few episodes with people who didn't like the turbolifts (they were claustrophobic or just wanted some exercise) and they always said they were going to take the Jeffries tubes.

Maybe they should have had stair but I don't think they did...

  • 2
    The other answers seem to argue that it's possible, but it's not particularly canonical. If you can cite a quote (probably would be Barclay), this might be as close as we can get to canon confirmation one way or the other.
    – Plutor
    Oct 18, 2013 at 13:52
  • Yep :) looking... I'm just on a trip right now so it's taking me a while.. Anyone here from Prague ;)
    – E.T.
    Oct 18, 2013 at 19:13
  • If you're too claustrophobic to use a turbolift, the mere thought of entering a Jeffries tube will give you epic nightmares. Just saying.
    – Martha
    Aug 31, 2018 at 23:04

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