Alcatraz Disabled Access Tram (“SEAT”)
The coast of Alcatraz consists mostly of steep cliffs, which means that after you disembark from an Alcatraz Ferry and exit the pier you face an initial climb up the main access road to the level of the old prison’s main cell block, a hike of about a quarter mile. The elevation change adds up to climbing the stairs in a thirteen-story building.
To allow access for Alcatraz disabled visitors the State Park operates small trams that are dedicated only to the disabled that go up and down the hill twice an hour in each direction. The trips are free for disabled visitors.
Wheelchairs are not available on the island, so you’ll need to bring your own.
There is no tram or shuttle service of any kind for other Alcatraz visitors. Buying a ticket means climbing the hill.
Because the road is narrow and the electric SEAT (Sustainable Easy Access Transport) trams are small, family members and friends of disabled visitors are asked by the Park to walk up the hill and meet their companions at the SEAT tram stop by the main cell block. Disabled visitors who cannot safely ride along may bring an assistant with them.
The tram drivers are not allowed to stop anywhere on the road between the dock and prison for safety reasons. If there’s any doubt about whether a disabled member of your group should take the tram, please encourage them to do so. If someone changes their mind partway up the hill they have to walk back down again to catch a tram.
Insiders Tip: The tram drivers work to get passengers up and down the hill efficiently, but crowds on the road from the pier can complicate the timing, especially right after a fully-loaded ferry arrives. If you have to take a specific ferry back to the Pier 33 Alcatraz Ferry terminal it’s always a good idea to go back down the hill to the pier earlier than you need to in order to avoid the possibility of feeling rushed if the SEAT tram was delayed en route.
Insiders Tip: Visitors can’t bring food past the dock area on Alcatraz after arriving on the ferry, and this includes the SEAT trams. Eating before you go (or buying and eating food on the ferry itself early in the short voyage) is a good idea.
Accessibility on Alcatraz
Once you’re at the main cell block level many of the exhibits and visiting areas are accessible, even at this old structure. Those areas include the ferry boats themselves, the dock and boarding areas on the island, the public restrooms, the prison main floor, the theatre, all of the museum displays and the bookstore.
Pier 33 has limited accessible parking but it can fill up. You’ll need to show your disabled placard at the entry to gain access. An accessible drop-off zone is located in front of the Alcatraz Landing Cafe, and the private parking lots nearby also include disabled parking areas.
For questions about disabled access you can call the National Park Service at (415) 561-4900.